Opposition MP St. Clair Leacock says he has reduced the amount of time he spends socialising with constituents on street corners (“blocks”) for fear that he could become an unintended victim of gun violence.
“And all I’m saying is that this level of exposure that some of us have as politicians, those of us who are very intimate in our constituency, who are on the blocks and or shops, and increasingly, how much we ourselves are at risk and exposed, because when these shooters and so forth looking for their prey, they are unconcerned about in whose company or presence or party, their target is,” Leacock said on NICE Radio on Wednesday.
“And that’s why I have to confess, I have to confess, that I have reduced considerably my hanging out on the blocks, because this is a matter that is really out of hand.”
He was speaking one day after St. Vincent and the Grenadines recorded its eighth homicide for the year, when Keron Hadaway, 29, was gunned down in Ottley Hall while working as a conductor on a minivan in Ottley Hall.
Two of the homicides this year have been people shot and killed by police officers in the line of duty.
The killings this year come on the heels of a year in which SVG recorded a record 42 homicides.
Leacock, speaking on his New Democratic Party’s (NDP) radio programme, said leadership and policy matter, and the public should not shift the blame to the police.
“They come after. The Minister of National Security should be called upon to go,” he said, adding that people in SVG have “perfected the art of ducking and diving and dancing around and escaping the reality of Vincentian society.
“We are in a crisis,” the NDP vice-president said.
He noted that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security, was in Venezuela attending to matters related to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), of which SVG was elected pro tempore president last month.
“He’s in Venezuela advising the Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Cubans, Argentina, Brazil, CELAC, how to run their country and every Monday morning he has a murder on his doorstep,” Leacock said of the prime minister.
“Every Monday morning he has a murder on his doorstep and he’s globe-trotting, telling the world how to run their business.”
He noted that Gonsalves recently issued a statement condemning police killings in the United States and the easy access to guns and ammunition in the United States.
“He hasn’t issued a statement on one of the crimes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, or his political party. He is telling America how to mind their business and how to deal with crime and violence in America,” Leacock said.
“This is not an NDP issue anymore … This is the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines versus Ralph Gonsalves. This is where the matter has reached now because, clearly, we have a crime culture in St. Vincent now. It’s not just gang warfare; it is a culture now. ‘I have a problem now with you, I shoot you, I kill you’,” Leacock said.