Talk it out, don’t fight – Hinds urges non-violent resolution to conflicts

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, right gestures while speaking with reporters at the Rose Hill RC Primary School, Le Coulee Street, east Port of Spain, on November 7, as, from left, Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland as then acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob, now on vacation, and current acting Police Commissioner Erla Christopher, look on. –

MINISTER of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds urged people to reduce their levels of violent confrontation and instead seek peaceful ways to resolve their perceived conflicts, talking to Newsday on Sunday, against a rising murder toll heading towards year-end.

Last Friday, December 16, the murder toll stood at 577.

Last Friday acting Commissioner of Police Erla Christopher described it as a “fact” that TT would reach 600 murders by year-end but hoped women as wives and mothers could help stem the tide.

Hinds said, “I received a message on social media this morning from a concerned citizen reminding me of the number of murders in TT. Yes, it’s very substantial and of deep concern to all of us.

“He was telling me about citizens being murdered. I just reminded him that, for the most part, these citizens were being murdered by citizens of the republic too. It is about himself to himself.

“Law-abiding people, citizens of whom he spoke, can come together and impose our collective will – in some cases through law enforcement – to prevent a lot of those (murders.)”

Newsday asked for any specific initiatives he had in mind.

Hinds said, “I heard the acting commissioner say quite sensibly that we need to put a watch on ourselves. The first actor is oneself.

“Therefore we have to check ourselves as individuals. That’s what she was saying.”

He recalled Christopher saying women have a particular influence over men and children and should heighten that role to ensure that “we get better behaviour from each other.”

Hinds said, “While she focussed on women, it is a responsibility on all of us – to impose good behaviour on ourselves.

“So if someone offends me, it doesn’t necessarily mean I have to resolve it in a fatality. I could go to court. I could go and talk to the person. I could seek a third-party intervention. It’s a lot.

“It has everything to do with behaviour – the mentality of people and behaviour.

Urging better behaviour, he recalled urging people to behave a bit more civilly but incurring some criticism for his remarks.

“But I’d like to see people being a little more respectful, a little more gentle, a little more polite, a little more communicative, more social, rather than the hostility, the abuse and the aggression that you see ever so often and sometimes for the most trivial of things.”

Hinds said a failure of such morale persuasion meant instead that the police had to do their job of enforcing laws.

“But before that, if we could put a check on our behaviour – be less aggressive and less wild.”

Citing former calypso monarch the late Sandra des Vignes, he said, “Singing Sandra said ‘Blood don’t have to flow. We could talk.'”

Asked about public safety at Christmas, Hinds saluted a very heightened police presence around TT including the shopping areas.

“I was in my constituency and was quite happy to see the police popping up in all kinds of places giving the citizens comfort and security.”

He said the police understood the burden everyone was carrying at the hands of criminals whom he described as selfish and sickened.