Lives Do Matter

Image: A few words from supporters who Stand With Botham

BLACK Lives Do Matter in America, where Blacks are a minority – and here too, where African descendants are in the majority.

Thing is, though, the value of Black Lives in America has to be seen against the background of the disproportionate and increasing number (of blacks) being killed by police across the US in circumstances as horrible as that of Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment by a Dallas police officer.

Everything points to this case involving a Saint Lucian quickly heading all the way to the top listing of those crying out for racial justice in the USA today.

The way Establishment America has rallied around the Dallas police officer – from the kid’s glove treatment following the killing to the call by Senator Tom Cruz for continued leniency – also highlights and underlines how the deep-seated division between unequal races can easily come to the fore there, in moments when push comes to shove.

The Black Lives Matter movement, like that for Civil Rights led Reverends Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson in the 1960s, is today’s platform for African Americans willing to take to the streets and protest the lingering injustices they highlight.

In Saint Lucia, all lives have always mattered. Police killings here are just as unjustified where they could have been prevented or avoided, but the race factor has never mattered. What has though, has been the class and social character of the victims.

The police here have been accused of somewhat devaluing lives in several related cases. But here too, terminal conclusions can’t be drawn until the slowly-grinding wheels of justice do grind to a finite halt.

Where Black Lives Don’t Seem to Matter here is in the realm of how young people execute their brands of peer justice. Youthful Gangland sees Conflict Resolution as resolving conflicts not with quarrels but with firepower. They let their guns do the talking.

Knives and cutlasses used to be the most-used offensive weapons once upon a distant time, but not anymore. Sharpened instruments — from scissors to screwdrivers to daggers — are kids’ stuff today, largely recovered during random searches at schools. Or, during similar infrequent searches at prisons or other places of largely juvenile incarceration, especially following incidences.

The firepower in young hands today continues to be of natural concern to Law Enforcement and Society. But this concern must transcend the traditional nonsensical annual statistical comparisons by politicians and national security officials alike, in ways that suggest that figures matter more than lives, as if they don’t realize that each numeral represents not only a life, but an entire family’s loss.

The rate of homicides here and across the Caribbean in the past three decades has increased substantially and must continue to be of concern.

Capital Punishment remains a political no-go. But the insufficiency of support for the principles that belie this position will remain and grow while the vital public discussion of the merits and/or demerits of ‘hanging’ continues to be evaded.

No one, no institution can determine or predict when someone will kill someone else. Call it murder, manslaughter, homicide, suicide or Death by Misadventure, each and every such description of a life lost or taken prematurely — whether by police or criminals, or even unintended — is that of a valued life.

Each life has equal value — and until that basic human principle becomes embedded in minds of people everywhere, there will continue to be reasons for reminding each other, from time to time, that lives do matter.

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