STATEMENT BY FRED MITCHELL MP
ON THE MURDER OF NEIL PERCENTIE
12th September 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
I received the news while out of the country about the death of Neil Percentie whom I knew as one of the activists in the PLP and who sought a nomination for our party for national office. There is no doubt that he was a man with bright prospects. Those prospects have now been snuffed out by an unknown assailant.
It is sickening, but also too tiresomely familiar, waking up to bad news each morning in this country: the daily body count or being awakened from one’s sleep to be told that someone else has been shot and killed. This is a tragic and escalating story over these past four years and it remains unaddressed by our public officials. The present crew of FNM administrators of this country act like ostriches with their heads in the sand: see no hear no evil. They have dismissed the carnage on our streets as criminals killing criminals. TommyTurnquest, our Minister of National Security repeated this nonsensical sentiment as late as yesterday. That, one supposes, makes it alright in his mind. The comment is silly, misguided not to mention inaccurate.
The death of Neil Percentie is the classic example of why the comment is wrong. Mr. Percentie does not fit that description in any sense of the word. He was an innocent victim.
Criminals have killed a Minister of the government, countless businessmen making their way in this world, ordinary young men and women trying to make a way in the world and yes some have killed each other. Nothing has stopped the carnage. One is forced to ask this government: how many deaths will it takes ’til you know that too many people have died?
There are however some measures which we can take. Perry Christie gave suggestions in his national address on crime. It is a real effort at social intervention to stop this carnage. It is a combination of short term shock measures like the police squads to tamp down the violence and long term measures to make sure that the boys and the way that they are raised and socialized changes dramatically. The Minister of Education says it can’t be done. We say in the PLP is must be done and it will be done notwithstanding the nay saying of the Minister of Education. Either we pay now or we pay later.
The Leader of our party often reminds the public what we did when the spate of killings in Fox Hill took place during our time. We brought Urban Renewal to Fox Hill and it had the affect of calming and stopping the violence. Sadly that was wrecked by this administration for purely political reasons once they came to power in 2007.
On 23rd August, 2011 I wrote the public authorities the following note by e mail:
I just want to bring to your attention shots fired last evening outside the…Club. This is the second time in a week. The first time was just about 1 a.m. I am told on Sunday morning as the club was closing. This time they report that they think they know who was in the car and who fired the shots. It is related to the killings of the two fellows buried within the past month I am told. I would be happy to share what I have been told because this seems to be serious.
I heard nothing save an acknowledgement from that time to this. The club that I was talking about is just around the corner from where the shooting of Mr. Percentie allegedly took place. Another shooting took place earlier in the year on the park which caused many of the residents to stop sending their children on the Freedom Park. The park is the same area where the shooting allegedly took place. The local Junkanoo group at one time stopped their practices on the park because of the fear of gunshots. I held a community meeting and urged the public authorities to exercise physical pressure to clean up the area. I pledged the support of the community even though it might have affected their civil rights. There has been no consistent disciplined response by the public authorities. They have failed the people of Fox Hill. They failed Mr. Percentie.
I therefore ask the question: is this society really serious about getting on top of this problem? Do we really have the discipline to bring the matter to heel? Or is it that we simply like to flap up our gums and row impotently as we do nothing but row?
On behalf of the constituents of Fox Hill, I extend my condolences to the family of Mr. Percentie. I urge all Bahamians of good will to condemn this senseless act. I pledge to do all I can to remove the scourge of crime from our country.
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