Social unrest will continue without ‘solution-focused dialogue’

The location of the points of the civil disruption have one thing in common. They have voted solidly for the PNM for the past 29 years but they continue to be socially and economically under-served.

The seeds of the discontent were fertilised by the alleged police killing of three men in the Morvant area. Four days later, there is no word on the status of the party of policemen involved in the killings—other than an assurance that the matter will be investigated.

Photo: Lawmen move in on Morvant residents Joel Jacobs, Israel Clinton and Noel Diamond on 27 June 2020.
All three men were shot dead within a few minutes.

That line about such investigations has been so frequently peddled that it provides little comfort. In another jurisdiction, the men would have at least been removed from active duty!

The commissioner of police is singing his victory song of having suppressed the failed ‘plan of disruption’ while the minister of national security is peddling his story that they were all paid instigators. But 30 June 2020 will be remembered as a day of massive disruption, after three months of Covid-19 lockdown.

We are experiencing a period of extreme insecurity. Business continuity is at risk; and people are unsure of where their next paycheque is coming from and therefore doubtful about their future survival.

All over, including amongst the law enforcers, emotions are raw. This is a time for real leadership and collaboration. This is a potential point of inflection where the true leader will emerge.

One option is to continue the use of force, which will result in increased bloodshed and the sacrificing of the lives of young black persons. Another option is to create opportunities for open collaboration, aimed at finding solutions.

There is no simple solution to this problem which has been festering for years. The answer lies in collaborating to understand the issues which drive these expressions. Academics and social commentators have proffered different solutions, but this is too complex to exclude the participants.

Photo: Morvant residents remonstrate with TTPS Inspector Alexander, after the police killing of Morvant residents Joel Jacobs, Israel Clinton and Noel Diamond on 27 June 2020.
(via Stabroeknews)

Both the ‘oppressed’ and the ‘oppressor’ must give voice to their thoughts and emotions. Whoever invests time in creating solution-focused dialogue will emerge the leader and solver of these deep, sticky social problems.

But alas, the timing may not be right for our formal leaders, because there is an election to be won. Kicking the problem down the road may be the preferred option at this time.

One thing the population is assured of is that, as we take this show-of-force approach, the problem will recur with increasing ferocity.

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