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A THING OR THREE by Rae Samuel

posted 31 Dec 2016, 05:47 by Gerry Kangalee
There have been 3 significant recent political events which lay bare what working class people have postulated for decades. The first was the response of the Industrial Court to statements made by representatives of an employers association re: the role the Court is playing in industrial relations matters and the description that followed of the judges.

What is interesting is that they feel bold enough to make these declarations openly and fearlessly. In other words the class feels politically strong enough at the moment to take the fight to the workers - their motto from the 80’s. Why now?

Their leaders seem to think that this is a moment to seize the time as class struggle intensifies and they perceive the labour movement to be weak and the present administration to be hopelessly inept if not confused and lacking initiative.

One must give credit to the JTUM/NATUC/FITUN for their response and the initiative the Court has taken. Why mention all three amalgamations of Labour? Even as NATUC knocked the Minister of Labour sideways on her arrogant usurpation of powers she is not entitled to, there was evidence of collaboration by elements within one of the Federations re: the Cipriani Labour College matter.

Next there was the declaration by Mr. David West, head of the Police Complaints Authority that the Police Service is a gang in uniform. What made this news? The source!

In sociology, criminology, it is an axiom that there is a direct relationship between the level of criminal activity and the culture of policing. C.L.R James always pointed out that the level of and potentiality for barbarism in the region would always be high because the Caribbean was a region where “law and order and justice” was an expression of raw power. Slavery, indentureship, colonialism…

Unlike the major capitalist countries there was no institution of democracy such as Parliament. No suggestion of the rule of law, rights of man. He would point out that it made possible the rule of butchers from Haiti down to Grenada.

Well Mr West is stating what many have lived through for decades. This is the land of Randolph Burroughs, the infamous illiterate crime fighter who made it to Commissioner but had to be taken down by his handlers. Burroughs was charged with murder, robbery, drug trafficking…

So if today police vehicles run cars to the edge of the road, police patrol malls at Christmas time with military grade weapons dressed in combat gear and you need a programme to tell the police from the accused, Burroughs’s chickens have come home to roost and calling for Mr. West's head in editorials does not change the reality. Yes he may have retracted or attempted to 'double speak' his way out as a form of damage control but facts are stubborn things. Besides nothing in his demeanour suggests he is given to rash, ill thought out commentary.

Finally, two lawyers, one a former Minister in the Ministry of National Security spoke on morning talk shows. The former Minister was calling for privatisation of some police functions. Never mind that nonsense call…look at the context in which he spoke! The haplessness and hopelessness of the police typified by the handling of the murder of Ms. Banfield a week ago!

The response of another prominent attorney was even more revealing. He stated openly that the corruption in the police service had now moved from the headquarters and onto the streets. Using what had happened in the Banfield case, he pointed out that investigations now seem to consist of detaining someone in the hope of extracting incriminating statements. He pointed out that laws/rules regarding detention and interrogation of persons were being openly violated. To wit, deeming someone a 'person of interest' does not give the right to indefinite detention and character assassination in the media.

A population that has been led to believe that God is a Trini and earthquakes cannot really happen here has been brutally compelled to realise how deep and widespread the cancer of social decay and self-imposed delusion has reached. To use an analogy from medicine the cancer has metastasised and spread to the bone, giving excruciating pain. Nor is pepper spray any answer.

Has it surpassed all the treatments we can give? We first have to acknowledge that we have fallen gravely ill and the present crop of national spin doctors cannot save us; then look for new staff.