Hinds: Gang videos paint negative picture of Trinidad and Tobago abroad

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and outgoing Prisons
Commissioner Deopersad Ramoutar inspect the march past teams at
the 82nd annual prison sports and family day at Arouca on June 1.
PHOTO BY Venessa Mohammed

NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says part of the challenge with vloggers posting videos of gang members on social media is it presents TT in a negative light abroad.

In 2024, foreign YouTubers Shai “Coco Boy” Noymark, Timmy Karter and Christopher “Chris Must List” Hughes visited crime hotspots and showcased people who said they were in gangs, openly posed with guns and talked about their involvement in ongoing gang wars.

Hughes, a 45-year-old Canadian, was arrested on May 28 by the Special Investigations Unit under the Anti-Gang Act and was charged under the Sedition Act on May 30. He is expected to face a Master of the High Court on June 3.

Hinds spoke to members of the media about the issue during the TT Prison Service’s 82nd annual Sports and Family Day at the Prison Service Recreational Sports and Cultural Club in Arouca on June 1.

He said, “Our international relations are very important to us because we have relations with the rest of the world in 1,000 ways, not only in the business of national security but in all spheres of the public life of this country. And it really is heart-rending to see that.

“But we believe and we trust in the decency and the uprightness of the majority of right-minded people of TT, especially in the media. Because, while I’m speaking about social media, there are occasions when I see on mainstream media, both print and electronic, when some of these misapprehensions are allowed to be pervaded. I think the media must pay closer attention to that.”

He said while crime and gangs existed, they should be rejected. He said the issue needed attention and the government would deal with it through parenting, social programs, and law enforcement.

Hinds said some young people in the videos claimed the country did not give them opportunities but he denied the claim. He recalled a 21-year-old Trinidadian woman from Morvant who called him from Ireland. Her mother was a Cepep worker and her father was a URP worker but she was in Ireland on an open government scholarship.

“So from an academic standpoint, from a training standpoint, from access to universities, access to the internet to learn anything that we want to other than violence and pornography, the children of this nation have diverse amounts of opportunity.”

He said at the police graduation ceremony on May 22, all of the 156 graduates were young people and the service would be recruiting more. Also, in the past five graduation ceremonies of the Defence Force in the last three years, all new officers were 25 years and younger.

To those in the videos saying there were no opportunities, he said, “What they need to do is to settle their little selves and reach out and touch, and take the opportunities, make use of them as so many have.”

He described the videos as “painful and unfortunate” because of the illegality, ignorance, emptiness, stupidity, and futility of that lifestyle. And said the police were watching the videos and they would do the necessary.

He said he suspected drug use in some cases and that the police were also paying attention to drug dealers as well.

Hinds said there were those in the country and the world who did not want safety or peace. And since those in national security carried a lot of responsibility in society, it was good the Prison Service, which was in charge of rehabilitating such people who were in the system, took the time to bond.