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We must fix families first
Two weeks after the Anti-Gang legislation went into effect, Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon says unless T&T finds a way to love, respect and educate its youths there will always be gangs.
Speaking to reporters after the consecration of the chapel of Our Lady of the Presentation at Presentation College, San Fernando, on Monday, Gordon said an intervention was needed within the family if gangs were to be eradicated.
Asked whether he believed there was a correlation between the passage of the Anti-Gang legislation and the spike in gang-related murders, he said, “(The) crime situation in Trinidad is in a difficult space. Many things that are being tried have not gotten to the place where we want it to go, which is zero murders by gangs.”
He added, “The fact that the escalation of gangs continues (despite the new legislation) proves that we have not yet found the right solutions.”
He noted, however, that it was not only the responsibility of law enforcement to eradicate gangs.
“It takes every citizen coming together to get the right solutions.
The church has its part to play and we continue to do that in our own communities. The priests are actively working in the different communities. The police, the Government, national security is working. We have to reach into the families because it is in the families that we are having our deepest problems,” he said.
Giving an analysis of gang recruitment, Gordon said, “A lot of these guys are looking for families. They are looking for love, for belonging and a place where they are recognised and respected. So they join gangs so they can find a place where they are respected and called family in all the wrong ways.
So unless we find ways for them to be loved, respected, educated and brought up right so they can earn respect in positive ways, we are going to have the problem that we are having with gangs in our country.
We all have to do what we can do to raise our young people into becoming model citizens in our country.”
With regard to the increase in break-ins at religious places of worship, Gordon said he did not think such institutions were being specifically targeted.
“I think it is the secularisation of the city and the country. This means that people no longer understand what is sacred. There was a time when you could leave your church, your temple or mosque open and go, yet nobody would dare do anything because they understood this was a sacred space. Now that the sacredness of the country has gone and in many people’s minds there is nothing sacred, everything is up for grabs.”
He said the loss of the sacredness of life had also triggered a spike in crime.
Roman Catholic episcopal vicar and parish priest Fr David Khan also said he did not think the enforcement of the Anti-Gang legislation had anything to do with the recent murders of known gang members.
“People have lost respect for humans and legislation has nothing to do with crime being on the increase. Similarly, in times past when they thought the returning of the death penalty would have caused crime to subside it was proven that this did not deter people from committing crimes,” Khan said.
“When people have lost a sense of respect and care for humanity at large, crime will occur and this is the reason why the legislation will not slow it down. Likewise, the death penalty did not stop crimes from happening in T&T.”
He agreed, however, that there was a need to intensify police patrols at schools and places of worship.
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