Ferguson: Change starts in communities

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Allan Ferguson –

SCRAP Iron Dealers Association president Allan Ferguson says change needs to start at the grassroots level in communities in order to successfully curb crime in TT.

He made this comment when he addressed a crime forum hosted by the association in Embacadere, San Fernando, on Friday.

“The police can’t be all over the place (fighting crime). You have to start with the communities. It needs to start with us.”

Ferguson claimed most of the crime taking place in TT is happening in the poorer communities, where there are large numbers of people of African descent.

He identified Laventille, Sea Lots and Beetham as some of those communities.

Ferguson also claimed that, over time, those communities had been neglected by both politicians and the private sector.

“They leave poor communities to suffer and to kill one another. The killing is taking place in all of the communities.”

Ferguson said the people who lived in such communities should also take responsibility for the levels of crime taking place there.

He told his audience that when men spent their salaries on alcohol and cigarettes and mistreated their wives and children, it caused a negative domino effect in the community.

Women become involved with other men to get money. Criminals can use money to lure children from broken homes into working for them in gangs.

Ferguson said, “The system is made for us to be killing one another, fighting one another. The system is not made in a way that we will unite with one another.”

He added that crime could only be properly dealt with if change happened at the grassroots level in all communities.

Crime, Ferguson continued, cannot be reduced by throwing money at it or providing more assets to law-enforcement agencies alone.

He said, “I am not here to collect money from you. I am not hear to ask you to vote for me..”

Recalling his own experience growing up in different places in south Trinidad, Ferguson said he worked hard to become a businessman.

He suggested that people in poorer communities should start businesses to develop themselves and build their communities.

Ferguson called on people in those communities to stop discriminating against others just because they are trying to do something different and positive.

Garth Griffith, a deportee from the United States, spoke about his return to TT 40 years ago.

He recalled being homeless for many of those years.

While he was homeless, Griffith said he never once engaged in crime to survive.

“It taught me that I don’t have to do crime. I don’t have to steal. I don’t have to kill anybody.”

Griffith said he found support from people in Sea Lots and Beetham, who provided him with places to live.

He hoped that other people who experienced similar circumstances to him would see that same love to help them find the right path to make their lives better.