If it takes profiling to save our young black men, then so be it

  • Answering questions: Acting Detective Inspector Jason Smith, right, and Acting Detective Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford appeal for witnesses at a press conference (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Answering questions: Acting Detective Inspector Jason Smith, right, and Acting Detective Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford appeal for witnesses at a press conference (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

It has been estimated that there were close to 2,500 incidents of stop-and-search in 2017, which works out to about seven a day. To a section of our community, that may be seven too many.

But from where we sit, as the family of Danshun Swann, 25, mourn his premature departure from this earth, and as a pair of tourists awake possibly to a holiday in ruins and an impression of our “paradise” as anything but, law enforcement could do with at least doubling that number.

The early impressions of stop-and-search when the procedure came to prominence during the escalation of fatally violent gang activity between 2008 and 2009 were that citizens were being unnecessarily inconvenienced and that a certain segment of society was being profiled in an abuse of human rights.

That segment was largely young black males. The uncomfortable reality for police, though, as they attempt to be politically correct in their dealings, is that the overwhelmingly high percentage of the 51 shooting or stabbing deaths since 2008 are young black males — and so, too, are those who have been convicted.

So whichever saying of “If the cap fits ...” or “If the shoe fits ...” appears more appropriate, young black males will have to wear it.

They inevitably will be subjected to more stop-and-searches as the police go about their jobs. The more, the merrier.

The process will help in the continuing war on drugs and gang activity, and significantly it should lead to the seizure of dangerous weapons — especially given that our young people appear so insistent on leaving for a night out with at least a bladed article in their design wear.

The price to pay is that many of us will be interrupted on our daily journey, in particular young black males, the large percentage of whom are law-abiding and will feel as though they have targets on their backs.

This is what happens when a society allows criminality to live so nonchalantly in its midst that it cannot be trusted, despite police commissioner Stephen Corbishley’s upbeat talk of garnering greater community engagement, to arrest a declining cultural shift that is teetering on the edge of a precipice.

A constant in a series of recent acts of violence that have ended in death has been Southampton Rangers Sports Club, the scene of more than a few video nasties.

While it would be improper to link the club too closely to what happened in the early hours of yesterday — the brawl and stabbing death took place on the street outside the club after it had closed — it would be wrong not to accept that the club is like a honeypot to gang members and the otherwise criminally inclined whenever an event is hosted there.

In the wake of the December 2014 shooting death of Prince Edness a stone’s throw away, having frequented the club minutes before, and the gun murder of Rickai Swan on club property ten months later, Southampton Rangers has taken steps to hire security. But any security group’s enforcement remit would not extend beyond club premises, which shifts a degree of responsibility on to police, who came in for stern questioning at press conference time.

Who could argue with television reporter Gary Moreno for hammering away yesterday at Acting Detective Inspector Jason Smith and Arthur Glasford, the Acting Detective Chief Inspector, over the men in blue’s apparent failure to anticipate that it would all kick off come closing time?

It should come as no surprise who congregate at Rangers when either a function is held or a big sporting occasion is scheduled. How much of police resources can be allocated to the vicinity of Southampton Rangers is a budgetary concern — those issues being a different problem altogether for the Bermuda Police Service — but there had to be something. If only to ensure that the departing revellers left the premises and surrounding area in a timely manner.

This did not happen, and so as many as 20 young men engaged in a fully fledged brawl with countless more standing by as onlookers — each of whom should be in a position to assist the police with their inquiries, but many who will flat out refuse to do so.

They might as well have held the knife themselves.

Unlike Danshun Swann, the tourists who had their handbag stolen will live to tell their story, but the experience of what Bermuda has become will scar them.

Pursued in broad daylight on a popular road, terrorised and then robbed of their belongings by two thugs on a motorcycle is not what should feature when you relive your date with paradise. But that is the unpleasant reality for one couple.

It is why stop-and-search should be a welcome part of our routine, here to stay in whatever increased frequency of execution is necessary until our society buys fully into effectively policing its own.

If that means being a snitch, then be a snitch.

It’s about taking back our streets. It’s about taking back our society and making Bermuda safe for all.

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Published Aug 28, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 28, 2018 at 8:09 am)

If it takes profiling to save our young black men, then so be it

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