Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ramesh, Jack go ‘up the hill’

Wednesday, February 13 2008

UNC Alliance MPs Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and Jack Warner yesterday promised Beverly Hills residents that their fears over crime in Laventille will be taken up with the Government.

They also promised to help revitalise Laventille through the introduction of football clinics and classes for women to acquire skills.

Warner and Maharaj met a handful of Beverly Hills residents who spoke about searches by the police and army in their community, which had been prompted by recent violence. “I will send some football coaches and donate the footballs starting from today,” Warner told the few Beverly Hills residents.

Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj defended the visit saying it was not meant to score political points.

“We believe that where a fear or insecurity exists and whenever the need arises, we will go in and help,”said Maharaj

He said letters will be sent on the residents behalf to Prime Minister Patrick Manning, Minister of National Security Martin Joseph and the Police Commissioner Trevor Paul. Maharaj said the police, especially those trained in community policing, should maintain a round-the-clock presence in Laventille to ease residents fears and to guide the troubled youths.

He said criminal gangs are going to become uncontrollable because they extort money from residents.

“This is a time when the Inter Religious Organisation and every stakeholder should understand that if they do not intervene, the country will have no rule of law, no accountability, and the criminals will be in control of every sector”, he predicted.

One vocal woman said she wanted more social programmes for the Beverly Hills community.

“I have two left foot, I cannot play football, but what I want, Mr Warner, is to buy a kiln machine so that I could teach the women in Beverly Hills how to make ceramics.”

She said she planned to approach her MP Marlene Mc Donald for help to set up programmes in Beverly Hills.

I dunno why Jack and Ramesh feel they could help these niggas.

Understand one thing fellas, these niggas will rather fock themselves in dey bottom wid ah young balisier rather than give political support to you boys.

Stop wasting your time on this scum of Trinidad and focus on people who want to be productive.

Most niggas generally all over the world depend on welfare and drugs for survival. They like it so.

I'll reproduce an article from the National Post for your perusal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Ghetto godfather


For seven years, Sudhir Venkatesh studied the workings of a Chicago street gang. His new book explains why gangs flourish--and how to get rid of them

Jonathan Kay, National Post
Published:Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In 1989, a University of Chicago graduate student named Sudhir Venkatesh decided to leave his cocoon-like campus, and find out what life was like in his city's notorious public housing projects. So he wandered into the decrepit Lake Park projects in Chicago's Oakland neighborhood, introduced himself to a group of teenagers shooting dice, whipped out a clipboard, and asked them this question: "How does it feel to be black and poor? Very bad, somewhat bad, neither bad nor good, somewhat good, very good?"

"You got to be f-cking kidding me," the ringleader said. And the whole dumbstruck group convulsed with laughter.

Hearing how ridiculous his own question sounded, Venkatesh realized then and there that he was wasting his time. The residents of this squalid building were living lives completely alien to his middle-class upbringing. He wasn't going to get inside their heads with patronizing multiple-choice questions.

But foolish as he felt, Venkatesh caught a break that day, one that eventually set him on a path to a rock-star reputation within sociology, and a professorship in the Ivy Leagues.

The toughs Venkatesh stumbled on were low-level foot soldiers with the Black Kings, an enormous regional outfit whose Lake Park operations were controlled by a formidable gangland general named J.T.

Against all odds, Venkatesh struck up an instant bond with the man. Unlike just about everyone else who lived at Lake Park, J.T. had been to college, and had even studied sociology in preparation for a short-lived career in the legitimate business world.

A narcissist, J.T. imagined his life to be worthy of biography, and invited Venkatesh into his inner circle as a sort of court scribe. For the next seven years, Venkatesh would become eyewitness to the inner workings of gang life. His remarkable account of those years -- contained in a newly released book, Gang Leader for a Day: A rogue sociologist takes to the streets-- is required reading for anyone who wants to understand why gangs continue to thrive among the West's underclass.

The first thing one notices about the world Venkatesh describes is this:

There are no fathers. Everyone at Lake Park -- even J.T., who commands 200 gangsters and, in a good year, makes six figures from crack-dealing -- lives with their momma.

The young men don't dream of settling down with a family. Rather, they seek to emulate the polygamous J.T., who uses his drug proceeds to lodge various girlfriends in separate apartments. With no father figures to guide them, these men internalize the juvenile conception of manhood peddled by rap videos, and fritter away their adolescent years pursuing it through streetcorner posturing and brawling.

The nature of the local economy is the second thing that stands out: Except for the corner stores (which are run by Arabs), there is little legitimate free-market activity. Virtually all of the money coming in to Lake Park comes from two sources: government welfare and drugs. The few people who apply actual market-able job skills within the community -- such as the mechanic "C-Note," who gets his name because he has "a hundred ways to make a hundred dollars" -- are so rare as to be minor celebrities.

As a result, criminality is normalized: The idea of studying hard, going to college and getting a respectable job -- the formula for success applied by waves of European and Asian immigrants to North American since the late 19th century -- is dismissed as a white man's fantasy.
Gang life is at the centre of all these pathologies.

But as Venkatesh explains, the local residents' attitude toward the Black Kings is actually quite conflicted. Because violence attracts police, and police scare away customers, J.T. has an economic interest in keeping life in the projects peaceful. For a small cut of the action, his henchmen provide a security detail for the local crack dens, and protection for prostitutes. They also drive sick residents to the hospital, organize basketball games, and even stage get-out-the-vote drives on behalf of the local black political machine. There is plenty of violence in Gang Leader for a Day. But it is not random. Like all petty tyrants, J.T. understands that his legitimacy rests on providing some semblance of order.

The portrait that emerges from this book therefore complicates the simple black-and-white way we normally think of the gang problem. Yes, gangs act as a criminal evil that act in opposition to the law-and-order culture that pervades mainstream society.

But in very poor areas that are bereft of the basic sociological building blocks of middle-class society -- stable families, legitimate employment, job skills, respect for education -- an established gang can, in some instances, take over some of the functions normally served by police, employers, and even social workers.

At the same time, Gang Leader for a Day implicitly suggests a strategy for tackling this underlying subculture: overhauling the drug laws and welfare programs that serve as its two-pronged economic power source.

As Canadian gang expert Michael C. Chettleburgh wrote in a June, 2007, National Post op-ed, our criminal prohibition of recreational drugs permits gangs to capture the massive economic premium associated with illegal enterprise. By treating drug use as what it truly is --a health problem instead of a criminal-justice problem -- we would force gangs to fall back onto far less lucrative activities, and thereby discourage membership.

At the same time, implementing a draconian welfare reform of the type the United States enacted under Bill Clinton could serve to eliminate the state's role in subsidizing a ghetto culture in which permanent unemployment is seen as a viable lifestyle choice.

Ultimately, all social reform begins with responsible people making individual decisions: No government policy can force people, of whatever skin col-our, to live their lives in a responsible way. But we can do a better job at setting up the right incentives, so that teenagers and young adults find themselves more inspired by Venkatesh than the gang leader he's written about.

jkay@nationalpost.com

Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

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