By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FORMER local gang leader yesterday estimated that “roughly 85 per cent” of violent crime is connected to gang activity and retribution.
Mark Beckford, founder and former leader of the Yellow Elder Hornets, called for more community involvement in curbing the incidences of violent crimes and murders in the country.
Addressing the issue of retaliation killings yesterday, Mr Beckford said he believes most violent crimes and murders can be traced back to gangs.
“A lot of it is mainly retaliation,” he said. “One thing about street life is that power is glorified. It’s glorifying being the bigger boss or the bigger chief or who’s the ‘baddest.’ But they don’t know the consequences for that. It’s like I’m giving away my life for power. You put a gun on the side of them now and it’s like you give them ultimate power, when in reality it makes them weak.”
In the wake of the country’s 16th murder of the year, which occurred on Sunday, Mr Beckford said rather than depending on authorities to try and curb crime, Bahamians need to “push the mindset out there that individuals have to be careful and responsible for their attitudes and their actions.”
“The nation has to understand the law isn’t a preventative method for crime,” he said. “Before a guy goes out and retaliates that means hatred, anger, bitterness, all those things have to be in place first. I can be willing to do something to you, and the law cannot arrest me or apprehend me as such. So it’s not preventing anything.
“There’s a saying in the Bahamas – a liar is a thief and a thief is a murderer – so why would you allow that liar to get so far where he’s a thief? You know he’s going to be a thief, so you lock him down and put him in proper counselling and let him know that he has to be responsible for his actions and his behaviour.”
Mr Beckford’s comments came after 66-year-old Marinetta Hinson née Leadon was shot in the head and killed in Yellow Elder Gardens, pushing the murder count to 16 for the year, according to The Tribune’s records. Gunmen also set a part of her house on fire during the attack.
Police subsequently said they suspected that Ms Hinson was killed in an act of retaliation for a shooting that occurred in her neighbourhood two days earlier, the victim of which was in hospital and listed in stable condition. Police believe one of Ms Hinson’s male relatives was involved in the Friday shooting, prompting Sunday’s attack on her home.
Mr Beckford made his statements at a Rotary Club of East Nassau meeting at the East Villa restaurant yesterday afternoon.
He was joined by Judith Blair, a former College of the Bahamas professor who had previously been shot, but subsequently “forgave” her assailant, and Bahamian psychiatrist Dr David Allen.
Dr Allen has crafted a proposed three-tiered approach to crime fighting, which outlines immediate, intermediate and long-term policies.
A key element of the first tier is to “define violent crime as a public health problem” and create a National Advisory Council on crime that would periodically evaluate episodes of violent crime and analyse data for the government and the public.
He has recommended, among other things, that the government engage foreign consultants with success in crime reduction; establish a residential programme for at-risk youth; create a mandatory national service programme; a mandatory curfew in high crime areas and providing psychological support for officers.
In the medium-term, Dr Allen has suggested the government ensure law enforcement receives sensitivity training to deal with victims of violent crime; create a national parenting programme; enforce the Domestic Violence Act and continue to implement closed circuit television throughout New Providence.
His long-term strategies include increased law enforcement recruitment and developing a national campaign on depression.