Parliamentary Representative for Vieux Fort South Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, this week, announced that he will be meeting with the Police High Command to discuss issues pertaining to crime in his constituency.
Dr. Anthony made the announcement via Facebook earlier this week. The meeting is due to take place next week, when Police Commissioner Milton Desir returns to Saint Lucia.
Noting that the cycle of violence must end, Dr. Anthony said that he will be meeting with the family of 21-year-old Jesus Blanchard of Westhall Group, Vieux Fort, who was shot and killed on May 28.
“I grieve for the family of Jesus and feel their distress and pain. I knew Jesus well. I plan to meet the family in the next few days to share my pain and distress,” Dr. Anthony said.
Further, he added, the warfare between gangs must cease. The Vieux Fort South representative noted that residents live in constant fear “sometimes dodging bullets as they seek refuge, even in broad daylight.”
“The people of Vieux Fort South must be given the respite they deserve. It is totally unacceptable that Vieux Fortians cannot roam freely in their own community,” he added.
The community has always been plagued with violence, however, of late, the violence has intensified. A day after Blanchard was killed, gunshots echoed throughout the community. The following day another male who was later identified as Dwight Sealy, was shot.
“So many of our young men have died because of these acts of violence, it is incomprehensible that young men who grew up together, went to school together, once socialized with each other, shoot each other with impunity all in the name of protecting turf and the interests of gangs in the community. There has to be an alternative approach to dealing with those issues and collectively we must find it,” Dr. Anthony noted in his post.
Dr. Anthony says he hopes to discuss with the Police High Command the troubling matter of the relationship between the police and his constituents, more balanced and effective policing, and police responses to criminal activity in the community.
Community members have also teamed up with the hopes of finding more information about Blanchard’s killer/s; a group of individuals are offering a lump sum to anyone who can provide concrete information on Blanchard’s killer/s.
“We are trying to get this crime solved in Vieux Fort. A group of business people (have) come together and put $20,000 bounty for any information we can get concerning this murder,” Bertram Fevrier told HTS News Force in a recent interview.
“We are prepared to give $20,000 (to) anybody (who) could provide a good video or a photo or any positive information concerning this death. We want young Jesus to be the last one in Vieux Fort (to be killed) so please we are calling on you,” he added.
Surveillance footage displaying what appears to be the last moments of Blanchard’s life has also appeared on social media.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 718-4114.
Prime Minister Philip J Pierre also spoke about the heightened criminal activity recently. Whilst noting that it is a grave concern, Pierre indicated that an instant solution cannot be provided.
According to Pierre, “It’s not a problem that we’re happy with, no government (is) happy with the gun problem. In one weekend in Saint Lucia three or four people (were murdered). This is not a good thing, but we cannot solve it tomorrow. This gun problem has been in Saint Lucia throughout time.”
“We are trying to improve the resources of the police. The Vieux Fort Police Station was abandoned for years … the last government refused to do anything about it. We are improving the Vieux Fort Police Station; we are trying to get the police more vehicles, help them in crime detection and prevention, but it’s a process. I am not happy when there is a murder, but I can’t solve it tomorrow, nobody can,” Pierre said, adding that the former United Workers Party government “didn’t solve it over five years”.
“We won’t solve it over a year. It’s something we have to work together to solve,” he said.