KEVON [email protected]
As riots continued in Port-of-Spain over the alleged extrajudicial killings of three Morvant men, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) says unless the State resolves issues within marginalised communities, there will be more protests.
During yesterday’s media conference at the party’s headquarters in San Fernando, MSJ political leader David Abdulah said these were disenfranchised people who feel they do not influence the country’s operation like the elites, whose needs are not addressed and who are angered by their exclusion from the rest of the society.
He said gangs were not the reason for the riots.
Abdulah said the MSJ stands in solidarity with the protesters who are demanding justice for the deaths of Joel Jacob, Noel Diamond and Israel Clinton in Second Caledonia on Saturday. At the time, police were searching for the men who murdered PC Allen Moseley hours earlier. Over the last two days, fiery roadblocks, a robbery and gun violence broke out.
Abdulah said the MSJ is against violence and gang activities. He also does not agree with the explanation from National Security Minister Stuart Young and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith that individuals orchestrated and paid protestors to riot.
“Young people are frustrated because they are unemployed. The education system has been failing them.”
In a recent webinar, he said one educator showed that the education system fails 40 per cent of youths. As this continues yearly, he said youths become frustrated as they are not able to get jobs and provide for themselves and family. They are relegated to 10-day work and CEPEP jobs, which do not allow them a good future.
“They cannot build a future or feel a sense that they own a part of Trinidad & Tobago. When you have that kind of situation, you are going to create the condition for some to be attracted to activities which are criminal and involving gangs. Because that gives them a sense of belonging or power or gives them some short term financial gain. They are creating the conditions for the proliferation of activities of violence in our communities.
“Unless we address the fundamental, root causes of the problems in our communities, we will have more events like what happened yesterday and the response cannot be by those in authority, that it is the work of a few people or that because they are being paid,” Abdulah said.
Noting that a woman was shot dead as police clashed with protesters, he said there must be an investigation into why officers used live rounds in that particular situation. He also noted that some people fired shots at the police.
Abdulah said that Tuesday’s riots will perhaps force the political and economic leaders to see that T&T is broken and needs fundamental changes. Such changes included lessening the disparity between the rich and poor.
While there was criticism of the protest that did not also advocate for others who were innocently gunned down, Abdulah said the MSJ could not determine what would trigger a community. In the US where black Americans face systematic racism, he said, George Floyd’s brutal death triggered a nationwide protest. In Morvant, a community that is stigmatised, Saturday’s killing could have been the last straw.
He said the present and past governments have marginalised communities like Morvant. However, he said, the People’s National Movement represented those communities, almost unchanged since Independence, and the party needs to look at that.