Passionate in his efforts to end the bloodshed on the streets of this nation, Elder Paul Joseph spoke candidly with this daily on Monday, regarding the recent murders that occurred on the island last week.
Joseph, who has for the past several years been keeping a detailed record of homicides throughout the country, noted that the ‘trend’ in homicides is nothing new.
“When you look at 2017 and compare it to the pace of 2016, you can see where we are going.”
Joseph’s count of national murders for 2017 was 123, the last two victims being 25 year olds. Eight of the homicide victims documented were female, while the remainder were males.
“The senior man for the month of January 2017, was 36 and the youngest victim was 16; persons between 16 and 36, we are losing our young people, time-and-time again.
“We see where our country is headed, we have had murders in Bimini, Abaco and Cat Island; it is throughout our society,” Joseph pointed out.
With a picture, name and age of each victim at the time of their deaths, Joseph shared that every picture tells a story about the victim and their life.
And, while residents are calling and in some case pointing finger are the government and police, Joseph in defense of the police said, “they cannot prevent murder. The police can deal with crime … they can control that, but they cannot stop murder. Murders are on a different plateau from the police force.”
Noting that he supports the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) “110 percent”, Joseph is of the view that they should be more forthcoming with information, in particular the identity of murder victims in a timelier fashion, as such information, although not confirmed by authorities, is released on social media and other platforms within hours of a victim’s demise.
“My concern is that there are other news mediums that are already releasing the information, particularly with those that occur on Grand Bahama.
“The particulars on the victims have yet to be released by the police on Grand Bahama yet for these most recent murders, that is where they fall down here. My concern is that they are slow in releasing information that the public has already been made aware of a long time ago. They want us, the public, to come forward and cooperate with them on information. The public coming forward with information is very hard, because when you go to court as a witness, you are going to be grilled by lawyers. The persons might then become targets as well.”
Joseph is of the view that if the police want the public to cooperate with them, they must in turn cooperate with us. “It has to be a two-way street. Give the public some information, release something.”
There were five murders reported in the month of December, 2017, all males. The first three murder for the new year, in 2018, are three males again. The trend continues from year-to-year, nonstop.
Questioned on his thoughts of the country’s first three murders taking place in Grand Bahama, Joseph said, “Freeport is the nation’s second city. This is nothing new for Grand Bahama. What is strange about this is the fact that there was a ‘MOVE’ on Walter Parker field with 49 pastors and thousands of Christians. From a spiritual perspective, the devil struck back and struck hard. Going into the New Year, on the first day, Joel Augustin was killed, followed by Tevin Roberts and now there has been a third.”
The ‘MOVE,’ which Joseph referred to was formally entitled, ‘The MOVE Watch Night Gathering,’ where a number of churches gathered on Independence Park, representing a number of Christian denominations on the island, to bring in the New Year.
“The MOVE must become a movement, barring all politics and lifting Jesus,” stated Joseph.
“There is a long road ahead, so therefore I am out, on the streets every day as much as I can be preaching and lifting Jesus up. I always question, when will it be that I have a clean month for January? When will I have nothing to record in January? There is no unbroken trend in my records, the same every year.
“Gurneys picking up bodies off of the streets has become a national scene all over The Bahamas.”
Joseph believes that many of the murders, if not all, are as a result of retaliation. “That is all it is; this is another level, above the law, or beneath it; however, you want to classify it. The law must now decide, collectively as a country, to put a full stop to that and the only way out, to stop that is capital punishment.
“In 2017 government changed, but we ended the year with 123 murders, nothing changed with the change in government; the landscape has not changed. When in opposition the Honorable Dr. Hubert Minnis said that the first thing that they would do would be to put capital punishment in place, by an FNM led government.
“But now that is on the back burner, that is no longer a priority. They have come against this wall; reality has hit where the judiciary is saying something totally different.
“We have already started the year off with three, during the first week. We are only under the covenant of Grace and Mercy, keeping us every day in this country. Every day you have to number your days now, sunrise, sunset.
“We are challenged with murder, immigration, drug possession and unemployment, but with all things considered, I have not heard of one church closing down. There are 315 in Grand Bahama, there are 4,000 in the country, all doing good.”
Questioned on his thoughts of the third murder taking place at such a public venue, Joseph replied, “It does not matter, that is what is called street justice. Street justice is not judicial justice. It is quick, fast and right to the point.
“We need a new mind set, a new judicial and legal mind set. We need to fast forward the county into the 21st Century. We need to take back the homes and take back the schools. Upstream, there are police cars, motorbikes, bullet proof vests, guns and there are parades on the streets, hauling persons before the courts, shackled at the ankles, with handcuffs and what not. But these killings are what are happening downstream.”
In conclusion Joseph offered his deepest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones over the years. “For all persons that have lost loved ones, this year, last year and all previous years in our country, we have to, collectively, make up our minds to take back our Bahamas.
“Christians are now empowered to make a difference, especially those who participated in the ‘MOVE’ that took place on Walter Parker field. They were under the open canopy; they were not in the building … let’s go!”