(SNO) – Responding to the recent flare-up of violence in the city, Mayor of Castries Peterson Francis has said the City Police will increase patrols, but he is concerned that many people are lacking conflict resolution skills.
Castries has stolen the crime spotlight over the past week. A woman was stabbed in the eye by a man last Friday, social media was abuzz with viral videos showing two separate street brawls involving about seven females, at least five persons – one killed – in a mass shooting on Tuesday, and two non-fatal shootings were reported last evening and this morning.
Francis has described the situation as “really bad” but said the City Police is resolute in stamping out these acts of violence.
But what’s the cause of this violence?
“Things not looking right. We have youngsters — especially when you do that in the middle of the city, you have all the schools around — [who] are coming out of the school, sometimes after school, and they are seeing how these grown-ups are reacting and doing and they believe it’s alright. So therefore, you might find these things permeating down to the schools right now, because they believe that a little boy just push them and they start fighting. It is really bad, and I think that we will patrol the streets even more to make sure that we could stamp out these acts of violence,” Francis told HTS.
He added: “I don’t know what is happening. I think we must also look at the situation where you find that the number of rum shops that we have in this place. The other thing …. I more believe probably people have more money in their pocket now, and these young ladies… they cannot find something to do and maybe the guys, we guys supporting them and they have too much on their hands. And what they are fighting for, is for nothing… I mean there is no reason for that….Right now you cannot touch somebody, you cannot make a comment and this is how all the fights were started. But the City Police, we are here and we going to make sure we have this thing under control.”
The City Police was launched in December 2016, about five months after Francis was appointed mayor. But while Francis believes the police has a part to play in fighting crime, their job gets harder when people are not able to settle petty differences without getting relatives and friends involved, which normally escalates the situation.
“When these things start like that, then the gangs come up, because you will have friends and relatives, and so on…. What is happening is that you find other people will get involved in it, and that’s where I believe the violence will escalate and… we have to watch it very, very carefully,” he told HTS.
The major pointed out that it appears that crime is more prevalent in the city.
“I don’t know what has happened to society, especially in the Castries…. If you look at the rural district, that is not prevalent as it is in the city. I mean look at Laborie, look at Soufriere…. I mean you will get little conflict there. You will get something happening there, but is not as prevalent as we have it in Castries. So I am very, very much concerned and people must now understand, they must resolve their problem. People must, and especially the by-standers,and they have people who encouraging them, who on that side, who on that side, but we must be able to find a way. I don’t know if we have to ask for more preachers, I don’t know if we have to have more people on the road preaching, but we have to have this conflict resolution where you find that people at least, you know, we have a disagreement, we shake hands and sometimes we heated. Let’s have a drink and let’s move on. “