Trinidad: 8-year-olds in gang culture—Hinds

By Trinidad Guardian

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – In T&T gangland language, “corn” means a bullet.

And apart from slang, gang culture is creeping into several Laventille West schools where some eight and nine-year-olds are showing signs of such culture.

Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds related the scenarios in Parliament during yesterday’s debate on the Anti-Gang Bill.

Hinds said there are 42 gangs in his constituency, comprising Rasta City and “Muslim” gangs. He lamented that youths were being used by more mature people established as large powerful community figures.

Hinds said the Muslim element entered T&T in the late 1980s, peaking during the 1990 failed coup attempt. Subsequently, he said some “brothers” were dealing guns and drugs, dominating various “blocks.” But other “brothers” stood up to them, giving birth to the Rasta City “versus” Muslims friction.

“Many of them aren’t any genuine Rasta. It’s only a name. Same thing with the Muslims. A lot transgress. Some Muslims even convert to Rasta City and vice versa,” Hinds said.

“But teachers in my area say primary students are showing signs of Rasta City and Muslim gang culture—they’re not speaking to each other… eight and nine-year-olds!”

Hinds added, “A 13-year-old wrote the Prime Minister that she was slapped by another student as she was from the Rasta City area. She has to be careful where she passes to reach school. On Tuesday I saw a 2011 video of a five-year-old with a man with an MP5 (sub-machine gun) on his shoulder. That child may be 12 years old now—what is he doing, I wonder?”

Hinds said tears came to his eyes recently when a constituent was killed by a gang after they found he was working for a rival “Muslim”gang. Another constituent was afraid to come to Hinds’ St Barb’s office as it was off limits and she didn’t want to become a “message” concerning turf warnings.

“Constituents tell me daily of fears. They’ve seen big long weapons all over the community—they just want to get out. One woman saw three youths outside her doors with assault rifles,” he added.

“If police seized 900 guns, there are far more out there. Nearby Brazil has eight factories—manufacturing guns like biscuits!”

Heavy gang activity is also occurring in quarrying.

“Police say men are guarding one quarry with assault weapons and shooting each other—organised crime!”

He said a worker attached to a contractor’s business was wounded when Beetham gangs demanded $400,000 and fired shots at the job site.

On recent Beetham protests, Hinds said, “If you misconducting yourself I cannot represent that! Laventille lacks for nothing. One must separate deprivation from criminality. But some people protest not because they want to but because they have to—else they’ll be branded as ‘gone against’ the community.”

He said statistics show gangs beyond Laventille: in Penal, Siparia, Marabella Trainline, Fyzabad, Cedros, Tobago, Couva, Enterprise and Morne Diablo.

“If people thought they’re safe in gated communities, Robocop was held at One Woodbrook Place and others at the Hyatt. Gang members’ children attend the best schools alongside your own,” he said.

He dismissed UNC MP Rodney Charles’ contribution on the bill as “hypocrisy! it’s like a woman of the night attempting to hide her legs! He’s talking about young blacks as though he’s concerned. The UNC feels crime is a PNM problem not a national problem!”

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