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Why were boys targeted?
As one of four gangsters was murdering the two Success Laventille students on Thursday, he shouted, “Five for Five”.
It was specific and calculated—each of the boys was shot five times. But why?
Just weeks ago, a gang member operating out of a territory warring against a gang from the area where the boys lived was shot five times as well and, although he did not die, “five for five” was pronounced upon the two teenaged students in retaliation, to inflict pain and fear on their community.
This account comes from one of the men on the ground, working with a team of 12 community activists called “interrupters,” desperately trying to stop gang activity and murders in Laventille.
Hal Greaves spoke openly on the CNC3 Morning Brew yesterday, hours after beating the ground trying to ensure that these murders do not escalate into something worse.
Members of his team had spent time with family of the murdered teens and with the youth most likely to retaliate, urging them not to do so.
But there is already a chilling indication that their work this time will have to be more than the usual.
While one team was working to ease the pain of the killings, Greaves got a call from another team member who was in the territory of the gang that’s believed to have committed the crime.
“Last night one of my interrupters calls me and tells me another community is celebrating. So while I’m getting calls for help, an interrupter is telling me that the boys by him are celebrating that two youths are down and that they have more to put down,” he said.
“I got so angry...angry at the senselessness of it. You have to send people to let them know that we are aware and that cannot continue. The police have their work to do. We use community mediation, conflict resolution to try to bring an end.”
No Laventille Road taxis were going up to Picton Friday morning as a result of the murders. No one wanted to take that chance.
“They are not going to leave the Picton area to go further up into a Rasta City area because they fear that they too might be pulled out of the car and executed,” Greaves said.
The war is between the Rasta City and Muslim gangs. It explodes and dies down from time to time based on factors only the gangsters themselves seem to know.
A murder is always a sure sign that it has started up again.
“Earlier this year the gangs in the area started going through the Lady of Fatima churchyard and schoolyard to go into the cemetery to shoot at each other,” Greaves recalled.
“It’s just erupting at different points. Men on Nelson Street are trying to keep it quiet because we had a murder the day before, an unidentified man down in the river.
“We (the community activists) still have to be on the Beetham, Sea Lots, Eastern Quarry...we still have to be in Belmont after the double-murder.
“We’ve had 11 people murdered in Laventille and the Port-of-Spain area but I only have 12 people who have to respond and keep gangs away from each other.
“Panmen are calling and asking if it is safe for them to have practice,” he said.
While the Success Laventille Secondary School often had a negative stigma because of where it is located, Greaves was certain that events at the school had nothing to do with the murders.
“They’re (the murderers) not interested in the school. They’re interested in hurting a community. That community which the people of Laventille call ‘Brooklyn’, they’re under fire right now. They’re under the gun. They’re being attacked,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether you were a gang member or not. You’re from the area and our pain must become your pain. It’s a mindless war.”
The mindless war has left the Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi a hurt man.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, he lamented young schoolboys being made victims of such a heinous crime.
“Who in their right mind with a conscience and soul could take two young men out of car in uniform, tell the young lady and driver that they could go, and shoot them five times. This has nothing to do with the PNM or the UNC,” he says.
Greaves would agree. As far as his experiences go, this is a war that comes to the most innocent individuals because of one factor—where they live.
“People are believing that they will be killed at some point because of where they are growing up.
“I know of a young person coming to his mother and saying, ‘Mommy when is my time to join the war?’ They grow up believing that they have to join at some time.
“You die in this war because of where you’re from,” he said.
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