Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 12th 2013 Contents A5
Saturday, October 12, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Acting Prime Minister Prakash Ramadhar says he
supports statements made by National Security Min-
ister Gary Griffith last week that gang members
would not receive state contracts.
Speaking to reporters during yesterday s law-enforce-
ment exercise in Malabar, Ramadhar said gang members
had no place in government business.
"There should be no negotiations with criminals,
especially if you are speaking about government con-
tracts," he said.
"The issue at hand is who do you determine to be
gang members. That is why we are asking for there
to be an increased sensitivity to get the evidence to
prosecute all those who belong to gangs."
Griffith tried to clarify the process the Government
would be using to deal with gang members who received
He said a watchlist of gang members would be com-
piled by law enforcement officers on the basis of intel-
The information would then be passed on to the
Ministry of National Security before going to the state
officials involved in distributing contracts.
"The persons who already have contracts, fair enough,
they got away. What we are speaking of now is black-
listing those individuals who continue to deprive citizens
of their safety and security."
He said the blacklist would not only apply to gang
members who sought to get contracts.
"There is also another avenue where they use indi-
viduals as fronts and we are aware of them already,"
"When legitimate contractors go to locations, they
are being targeted by individuals in the communities
and told that they must pay taxes, and we are dealing
with that as well. We will deal with it and stamp it
out once and for all."
Griffith also commented on Attorney General Anand
Ramlogan s statement that blacklisting gang members
could lead to an increase in crime.
While he said he agreed with Ramlogan, he added
that his initial statement was not negotiable.
"This is similar to the United States, where there
is a watchlist. If someone is a terrorist but has not
been charged I don t think they would allow him to
paint the Pentagon. Any right-thinking government
with good ethics and the political will would not adhere
to any elements having contracts. "This is not negotiable.
There is no discussion to this."
A three-year-old girl died on Thursday afternoon
after a sliding gate fell on her at her home in Diego
Around 4.30 pm Tiana Sandy was playing with
other children in her yard when one of them reportedly
pushed the sliding gate.
The gate reportedly ran off its track and fell on
Sandy, pinning her to the ground. Sandy s friends
alerted her parents who quickly raised the gate to
free the toddler.
They took her to the St James District Health
Facility but she died of her injuries shortly after 6
Thursday s incident was the second time for the
year a toddler was crushed under a gate.
On February 19, Zuri Waleed Singh of Dow Village,
California, also three, was crushed under a gate at
a house at Roystonia Gardens, Couva.
Western Divison police are probing Sandy s death.
Gang leaders use money from govern-
ment contracts to provide food for mem-
bers of their community and buy expensive
tickets for them for concerts with Jamaican
Some of that money will also be used to
buy guns, or rent them.
There are other gang leaders who use
almost all the money to strengthen their
financial empire and the community sees
very little of it.
This and other revelations came from Fr
Clyde Harvey, who works with young people
in at-risk communities.
He said he has never been in favour of
giving of government contracts to gang
leaders, or even the introduction of state
relief programmes like Cepep and URP in
crime hot spots.
Harvey was responding to questions from
the T&T Guardian yesterday on whether
government contracts given to gang leaders
increased or decreased crime.
"It s not as simple as yes or no...There
are different kinds of gang leaders," he said.
"There s the kind of gang leader who will
take the money and use it to set up a pro-
gramme to benefit members of his gang
and people from the wider community. For
instance, he might sponsor a small-goal
competition. Some time ago, a gang leader,
now deceased, said it cost him $30,000 to
keep his community together. He admitted
he had to find that money."
Harvey also said, "Some of the money
is used to buy or rent guns."
Asked if gang leaders did not already
have enough guns, he replied, "Talk to any
gang person and they never have enough
Asked if the gangsters seek to get guns
that are more sophisticated than those of
the police, Harvey said, "Once people begin
to have ambition in the world of crime,
they want to be the best. This is also true
in other countries in the world. Look at the
Harvey said when young people are told
to put their guns away they make it very
clear the police cannot protect them.
He referred to the recent killing of a 30-
year-old woman who witnessed the murder
of a Diego Martin PH taxi driver in Laven-
"That young woman s death only serves
to reinforce that belief," he said.
Harvey criticised politicians who said
they never dealt with gang leaders, claiming,
"They all did it. It is somewhat hypocritical
for anybody who has been in politics to say
he has never dealt with gang leaders."
Asked why he felt politicians gave gang
leaders contracts, Harvey said, "Because
they have no real solution. They feel they
have no other way forward, and believe at
least the contracts will provide an anaes-
thetic, will quiet things down."
On whether young people get involved
in crime because of rank, he said, "It still
remains a matter of rank.
"When you have nothing else, the school
system fails you and you don t see a future,
the gangs provide family and empower-
Harvey said make-work programmes like
Cepep may be used by members of the
community for good, for a while, until they
"The political will is always about five
years and my power, not the interest of the
He said the solution to crime in depressed
communities lay in the schools and com-
The Love Until Foundation, based in
Upper Church Street, Laventille, was more
decided on the issue of giving government
contracts to gang leaders.
Chairman Brian Jones was clear.
"Giving state contracts to gang leaders
only increases crime...It does not alleviate
it," he said.
"Contracts enhance the turf war, which
could escalate into murder. There is infor-
mation to show this happens."
He felt government contracts should not
even be given to gang leaders, known by
the community and, sometimes, the police,
but against whom there is no evidence to
take to court.
"The law says a man is innocent until
proven guilty but people in the community
know they are gang leaders," Jones said.
"I find it difficult to accept the State
would assist known criminals."
Jones said sometimes the same gang
leaders are very involved in helping their
communities and this can become a dilem-
"That s the challenge the country faces,"
The Love Until Foundation has been
working for eight years in at-risk commu-
nities, teaching young people life skills and
how to get gainful employment.
"We try to assist them in developing a
sense of self and do literacy programmes
where necessary," Jones said.
Priest on contracts to gang leaders:
Some provide food for
residents, some buy guns
Fr Clyde Harvey
Girl, 3, crushed
by falling gate
during a patrol
at King's Wharf
in San Fernando
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