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"We Have A Gun Violence Problem" -Rachel Taylor

Statement from Hon. Rachel Taylor on the rising spate of crime, which affects her Five Cays constituency.

Yesterday, (Saturday) 24th September 2022, as we laid to rest the beautiful Ms. Cecelia Jennings-Smith (“Sista”) at the Paradise Baptist Church in Five Cays, my heart remained heavy and troubled at the fact that within the past week, the small country that she loved, and in particular my beloved constituency, recorded an additional two senseless murders.

I cannot ignore the fact that here in modern day TCI, we have a problem. It is a problem which has resulted in too many grieving families and friends. A problem which unjustifiably strikes fear in the hearts and minds of parents when they should be enjoying the prospects of a bright and prosperous future for their children, and in particular their sons.

A problem which has turned even the most encouraging of social media pages, to pages with commentaries filled with outrage and passionate pleas for justice. Turks and Caicos Islands, we have a gun violence problem!

As the representative for the constituency of Five Cays, South Dock, Chalk Sound, and select parts of the areas known as the Airport Road and Kew Town, I remain committed to advocating for safer communities and to exploring solutions for the resolution of our gun violence problem.

Though these are not the only and final solutions to our problem, I encourage members of my constituency to join me in embracing the following initiatives:

(a). On Monday, 26th September 2022, with the support of Fortis TCI and the Public Works Department, we will continue the installation of additional streetlights throughout the community of Five Cays. It is hoped that the added visibility would act as a deterrent to concealed criminal activity.

(b). On Monday, 26th September 2022, the Christian Council including pastors of churches within the community will meet in prayer for the residents at the Five Cays Prophecy Church. You are invited.

(c). On Tuesday, 27th September 2022, at 5 p.m. with the support of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Department and the Sports Commission, we will be opening a portion of the Felix Morley Community Centre in Five Cays to serve as a Community Police Outpost that will operate on a rotational basis.

(d). Friday, 30th September 2022 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. a National Day of Prayer will be observed for our Youth. I ask that all persons of faith (whatever that may mean to you) join in offering up petitions for divine intervention in our current gun violence problem.

Pray that the Spirit of the Lord will comfort those who mourn, whilst softening the hearts of those involved in the conduct of our gun violence problem, to repent and to be transformed into lives that serve the betterment of our community, rather than its destruction.

Pray for even greater solutions to be implemented to curtail this problem effectively once and for all.

I admit that the aforementioned efforts are in no way adequate for resolving our gun violence problem and other criminal activity. However, I encourage everyone to support and join me in advocating for strengthened initiatives, as we head into the week which culminates with our National Youth Day observance.

Notably, National Youth Day is meant to be a day of celebrating all things youth! We must condemn violent gun crimes while saluting and encouraging the majority of our young people who are ‘good, law abiding and progressive’.

The individuals involved in this spiral of violence are a very small minority when compared to our progressive youth of this country and we will not allow this to overshadow our youth who work tirelessly to make a difference in these Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands. We will celebrate our youth who continue to be trailblazers for our country, as we progress in enhancing the capacity of our youth, towards building a peaceful and secure future.

I do not doubt that our government sees and is treating the need to address the current gun violence problem as serious and urgent business. Nonetheless, across all powers that be, I am pleading for greater dedication to improving policing and community surveillance to enable better detection and prevention.

I am pleading for the speedy acquisition of and implementing the use of modern technology to document persons entering the country and moving throughout it. We need an advanced facial recognition and fingerprint database used not only for immigration purposes, but also for internal security and policing. I am pleading for a kind of policing dedicated to fostering healthy relationships between our police officers and the community.

The kind of communities where the residents will see something and say something! I hope that our police become more active within and throughout all communities. We must build better relationships with our police and it involves the participation of us all. Together we can and with the dedication of our communities and that of the police, we will overcome!

The level of gun violence plaguing this small country is tantamount to terrorism occurring from within, it is a real- and present-time threat to the prosperity of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Do not be mistaken, the Police Department is more equipped than it has even been before with resources and manpower, and more is on the way, but we need the more now, more than ever! “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” AMEN! May God Bless these Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos Islands.



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