The recent truce by rival gangs may encourage Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to consider a gun amnesty if the gangs are serious about peace.
During a press conference at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain yesterday, Griffith offered a potential amnesty if the truce announced by rival gangs is truly for the better. He said having seen the video of gang members meeting up in East Port-of-Spain over the weekend, he welcomed such news.
“This is excellent news, if it means that persons who have been involved in criminal activity that have been instrumental in and been the catalyst for the majority of the 5,000 murders in the last decade and they decide to say ‘let us form a truce’ because we want peace,” Griffith said.
However, he said he hoped the gang members would take it a step further.
“And with this now, as the Commissioner of Police, I want to help you with that truce since you are telling the whole country that there’s a truce and you need peace. I am providing the opportunity for you to hand in all your firearms because as gang members who want to have a truce, I would expect that what you will do now is to give up all your firearms and then work to helping this country,” said Griffith.
“If they have formed a truce and say they want peace, and with this as Commissioner of Police I intend to help you with that truce. I am providing the opportunity for you to hand in all your firearms. As gang members and you want to have a truce, I expect that you will do now if give up all your firearms and then work to help this country. A truce cannot be cosmetic that you high- five gang leaders with others, and then you have firearms.
“If you are speaking about a truce and you want to bring peace, then bring the items of war that you have used to kill many innocent persons in this country over the last decade.”
The activity of the Port-of-Spain-based gangs came under further scrutiny last week when they reportedly united to target police officers at the height of protests over the police-involved killings of Morvant residents, Joel Jacobs, Israel Moses Clinton and Noel Diamond were killed in Second Caledonia, Morvant. The car of a police officer was also firebombed at her Laventille home during the second day of protests over the killings.
Last week, Griffith had acknowledged that there was a possibility that the gangs had united to make a stand against the police.
The truce between the rival gangs was brokered last weekend by a group of dancehall artistes, some of whom have affiliations with the gangs.
Yesterday, Griffith said the terms of such an amnesty would have to be confirmed following consultation with Minister of National Security Stuart Young. However, this may take some convincing. Last year, Young said he was against putting a gun amnesty into effect as he lobbied for amendments to the bail and firearm acts in Parliament. In 2017, Young’s predecessor Edmund Dillon had also similarly rejected a suggestion of an amnesty.
In 2009, following the murder of 10-year-old Tecia Henry, her mother Diane Henry had called for a gun amnesty to be implemented. While the amnesty did not come into being, the Tecia Henry Community Order was organised by the warring gangs. That peace accord, which started at the end of June 2009, lasted until April 2010. (See page 6)