In central Trinidad, covered in tangled vines, towering trees and green vegetation as far as the eye can see, one can find the evidence of a once thriving cocoa, coffee and citrus industry.
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Laventille activist: Crime starts at the top, not in ghettos
Laventille community activist and former PNM senator, Muhammad Shabazz, says crime did not start in the country’s ghettos but at the top echelons of society. He was responding to the killing of 21-year-old Chaquille McCoy by police in Mon Repos, Morvant, on Thursday and the execution-style killings of two brothers, Jadel Holder, 9, and Jamal Brathwaite, 15, at Coconut Drive, Morvant, last Sunday.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on Thursday, Shabazz said, “Nobody getting hold, when people get hold at the top they gone.” He said when high profile persons fraternise with the social and political elite their cases “just die.” “You see a man direct on a video, you don’t know what he smoking but from the discussion it sounds like marijuana. “It looking like he will be free because he even denying the picture we seeing is him and T&T accepting that.”
He said he had been fighting for most of his life to change the dynamics of what was happening in the ghetto when the politicians were their only hope of making the communities better and enlivening them.
Shabazz said when Tacarigua residents and members of the Save Our Green Space Committee (SOGSC) objected to Sport Minister Anil Roberts building a multi-sports complex at the Orange Grove Savannah in Tacarigua, he called Roberts and told him that if the Tacarigua and environs communities didn’t want the sports complex which included a swimming pool, Morvant or Laventille would take it.
He said Roberts told him that a multi-sports complex wasn’t on the list for development in that area, which surprised him. However, Roberts told him when the Sportt company was scheduled to construct the next one to give him a reminder. Shabazz said he told Roberts that the sport programme he proposed could be modelled after businessman William Munro’s youth programme which catered for the children of the San Juan/Laventille community.
He said the programme was run from Munro’s Moses Avenue, San Juan, home, with life skills tutors; it instructs more than 50 students in anger management, conflict resolution, financial literacy, practising non-violence, national pride and building self-esteem. Shabazz said another component of the programme was swimming, which was taught in Munro’s 25-metre pool and the swimming instructor and lifeguards were paid for by Munro.
He said the programme was held every Saturday, tuition was free, and there were free snacks and drinks for the children. Shabazz, 65, said, however, two years had passed and Roberts had never visited Munro’s place. He said he called Roberts and reminded him of his proposal. Roberts then told him he was only maligning him in the media and asked if he wanted a war with him. Shabazz said he later sent Roberts a message saying that when he disrespected elders the price to pay was high.
He said there were active sports programmes in the communities that spanned from Barataria to the Beetham under former sports minister and Trinidad midfielder Ken Butcher. Shabazz said it was one of the best sports programmes and Butcher was terminated along with the programme when the Government changed, as happened with successive administrations.
Continuing next week—Society failing vulnerable children.