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CSI Crown Trace, Parliament….
The video on YouTube is called, “Crown Trace Enterprise Trinidad 2015 Part I”, and is more gripping by itself than the last three of Martin Scorsese’s crime flicks combined, though they were all pedigree efforts, (“The Departed”, “Shutter Island” and episode one of “Boardwalk Empire”). What makes it really chilling, though, is not its primary content, frightening though that is; no, in the same way that what was really disturbing about the sci-fi thrillers “Children of Men” and “Blade Runner” was not their main storylines, but their background or secondary vision of the future, the real bone-chilling aspect of the video is its incidental—at times, almost accidental—revelations of the truths underlying Trinidadian crime.
The video opens with a young man wearing a—camouflage, so he starts illegal—bandana and turban, who chants in Arabic something he has been told the meaning of, and then slips into his normal speech to say, “Yeah, this is a little video I making here for the public to understand what going on in Crown Trace. Is not no Muslim/Rasta City war. Is a little animosity between [a named—or at least nicknamed—person] and he gang and a few Muslims from Enterprise…most living in Crown Trace”; many also now having died there.
The video runs 12-and-a-half minutes and consists entirely of the young man telling the camera the backstory of the many Enterprise Village murders—including one actually in a mosque a week ago today, as the murdered man was preparing to pray. (One wonders, en passant, if, in those circumstances, he will get his 57 virgins, or be made to suffer some discount.)
The first unsettling thing is the young star of the video is obviously no fool.
Articulate (if given to media-speak stock phrases) and coherent, he speaks, off-the-cuff, fluidly for 12 minutes in explaining that two named—or at least nicknamed—men are allegedly killing pretty much anyone they like (or, to be linguistically accurate, dislike) in Crown Trace: a great deal of social failure—of the education system, of child protective services, of the legal system, probably—was necessary for such a clearly intelligent young man to end up on that side of the gun and camera.
But it doesn’t matter whether what he says is true or not (and nothing he says seems far-fetched, given the persons mentioned). What matters is how casually he speaks of what ought to be deathly serious issues. “They [the nicknamed persons] decide to eradicate the brother on Crown Trace but the brothers defend it and people get shoot up and thing…
[We] come to realize it have some kind of strong relationship between the police and the [nicknamed person]. [But] [t]he fellas and them ent strike back, but they defend, they hold they little end.”
What he’s describing here is a complete collapse of social order and either a reversion to feudal relationships or an escalation to modern, urban warfare. He relates, matter-of-factly, as though summing up the last CPL game for a friend who missed it, an attempted murder where, “Ham-dil-Allah, it didn’t happen, he just pick up two”; two being, presumably, two non-fatal bullets. At one point, which would be hilarious if it weren’t terrifying, he says, “They try a few drive-by shootings and thing, couple brothers get shoot, nothing serious”.
Later, he states, with no bias at all, as unfettered reportage, that, “We tell the police, if you here, we wouldn’t block the road, [but] if all you leave, we will have to block the roads because people passing and shooting…Yes, we had little walkie-talkies, so we was shifting brothers around… Not one shooting on [nicknamed person’s] block, but 15 shootings on Crown Trace.
Hundreds of rounds of ammunition they coming and picking up. And you still wouldn’t put a patrol to keep the community safe? Muslims don’t have the community under siege, Muslims just defending… The highest-ranking officer who come to Crown Trace was a corporal and he keep saying this was above his pay-grade”.
Woody Allen might have refused those lines as incredible, particularly the last one, but they’re par for the Trinidadian course today.
But that’s not the most frightening part of the whole shebang.
The really scary thing is that, the gangsters are not the only—or indeed, the main—players in the tragedy. Arising out of the same set of facts, and coming to the same geographical location, at speed, to show their faces and wag their fingers at the TV cameras (even if they’re both running around like chickens with their heads cut off), are two out of three of our leading political figures—assuming you’re willing to give Jack his Jacket.
There is nothing from which our politicians will not seek to gain a personal benefit, I know, but do they not conduct at least an assessment exercise, to see if they should at least wash they foot before they jump een to something?
And what does it say of Trinidad itself, that it should become a media focal point whether Jack Warner or Kamla Persad-Bissessar is more willingly received in a small stretch of land awash with blood?
And what does it say of Trinidad & Tobago that, 181 years after Abolition, the most profitable trade in the land remains in that of young African men? Especially if the modus operandi is to extract the most value we can for ourselves before they die young?
•BC Pires is ducking until he’s in Lange Park; as if bullets stop at barbed wire.
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