By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government’s advisory warning Bahamians travelling to the United States to be cautious in the wake of recent police killings of black men was appropriate, a youth leader told The Tribune yesterday.
Delano Munroe, Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) president and CEO, conceded that while crime in The Bahamas, particularly Nassau was a problem that would not be fixed overnight, the government was right in issuing its July 8 warning.
“Fred Mitchell, minister of foreign affairs, was absolutely correct when he issued the recent advisory warning to fellow Bahamians who frequently travel to the United States and who work and attend college and university abroad,” Mr Munroe said. “If the good minister of foreign affairs did not issue the travel advisory we should have been very concerned as citizens of The Bahamas.”
“On an annual basis hundreds of young people leave The Bahamas to attend college or university in the United States.
“An advisory such as what was issued sensitised our citizenry to the harsh reality of current and ongoing issues facing our black males in the United States. It is my view that these issues will not go away any time soon as a matter of fact it may get worse before it gets better. It is our prayer that it turns around soon for the better.”
Last Monday, just days after The Bahamas government issued its warning, the US Embassy in Nassau released its own advisory to American citizens living in the Bahamas or travelling to this country. That warning urged Americans to be vigilant of their surroundings in Nassau and on Paradise Island in view of the increased reports to US officials of armed robberies and violent crime.
Last week, embassy spokesperson David Allen insisted to The Tribune that there was no link to the July 8 advisory sent out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Allen explained that the embassy recently put its staff and their families on alert due to increasing reports of armed robberies, and as such was legally required to issue a similar message to its citizens.
On July 7, five police officers were killed and seven wounded during a protest in Dallas, Texas over the fatal shootings of two black men by the police – Alton Sterling in Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
Three other countries, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand, have also warned their citizens travelling to the US to be careful in view of the incidents, according to international reports.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ warning went viral after it was issued and came under fire from American commentators who argue that the notice was political - a claim Mr Mitchell has denied.
Mr Munroe, who has worked with young people for more than 15 years, said yesterday: “No amount of preparation or advisory can really prepare our people for situations they may encounter.”
“However the recommendation to cooperate fully with law enforcement officers if approached and to stay away and not participate in protest and demonstrations that don’t concern them is most appropriate,” he stressed.
“During the 30 week programme of the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) we spend a signification amount of time preparing our students for the eventuality of attending school abroad and we really dive in and deal with most of the common complexities surrounding schooling in the USA. We also spend time in theoretical and practical lessons of conflict resolution and confrontation. Our students are better equipped to face the mounting challenges of living abroad and locally. It is not an easy process, we have seen through a proven tracking system that our students are less likely to get involved with domestic violence.”
On Sunday morning, three police officers were killed and at least three others were injured after shooters attacked them at a gas station near police headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.