By Loshaun Dixon
Assistant Commissioner of Police in St. Kitts and Nevis McCarta Browne has revealed that violent homicides in the federation have mirrored scenarios portrayed in violent dance-hall songs out of Jamaica
The age-old question of whether the violent lyrics portrayed in dance-hall songs correlate with modus operandi of the gang culture in St. Kitts and Nevis and the wider Caribbean was a talking point at a Regional Security System (RSS) panel discussion on “Exploring the Impacts of the Gang Subculture”.
Browne said that in the Federation there has been a glorification of gangsterism in music that’s played on radio and television citing a recent song with the lyrics “one phone call it take to make some boy wipe off the earth and drop down flat”.
“If we want to make correlation with some of the songs that is played on the airways and some of the artist that we entertain, seven homicides in February alone are enough to say these songs are having an impact.”
Browne said he feels there is a direct correlation based on information gathered from policing gangs.
“When we enter their homes, this is all we are hearing. When you check social media this is all the type of music they are listening to.”
He said some of the murders in the federation also mimic the scenarios in those songs.
“When you look at some of the homicides that are committed you could basically link some of the homicides to some other lyrical content in some of these music.”
He said the police have engaged the federal government in terms of revisiting the present gang law.
“As we speak now we are in discussion with the Attorney General to see how best we can revise the existing law as it relates to criminal gangs that is a work in progress.”
Owen Ellington, a former commissioner of police in Jamaica, said to understand how the lyrics can impact gang culture one must understand the nature and characteristics of gangs.
He explained that gangs do have conflicts, they have intra-gang conflict and inter-gang conflicts and when these conflicts occur the lyrics provide a resolution.
“If you have conflicts and you can’t come to the police and report those conflicts, you can’t go to court and arbitration…What you find is that there are lyrics in music that are promoting an alternative,” said Ellington.
He said in Jamaica there are individuals who murder people and put out songs about it.
“Vybz Kartel when he murdered Lizard released a song about it ‘have you ever killed a lizard yet.’ He murdered another man and killed the witness and he put out a song on the June 12 2010 Witness Elimination is my strategy… the song is called let me go.”
Ellington said another dance-hall artist Ninja Man murdered several people and was finally convicted on one charge last year. He said there are several dance-hall Dee-jays who are facing the courts in Jamaica for murder.
“Whilst I can’t say to you lyrics uttered results in death, I can say if you have conflicts and there is no other way out of resolving those conflicts except for a conflict resolution doctrine that advocates violence against others do the maths,” Ellington said.