Coming Together: Diane Finnegan Asks Marco Vidal What Are His Intentions for Southside
The move to bring together various Belize City gangs to discuss a possible peace treaty is being facilitated by the Belize Police Department, as well as the Youth Apprenticeship Program, an initiative led by Diane Finnegan. Over the years, the wife of the U.D.P. area representative for Mesopotamia has played an integral role in enabling the mediation process. Through her work, she has been able to reach many at-risk youths and known criminal figures alike, who have made the transition to leading more productive lives. As with the pending departure of south side top cop Chester Williams, questions have been asked in respect of the tentative truce and Finnegan’s role in that process. She makes it clear that she is prepared to work with Williams’ successor as long as it is for the betterment of the community.
Diane Finnegan, Youth Apprenticeship Program
“Everything is about purpose and intentions, that’s how I live my life, purpose and intention. So why are you bringing Mr. Vidal into the system? What is his intention for being in the system? I’m working with you as long as that purpose and intention is to calm this crime and violence without brutality, without intimidating these young men and without destroying what we have put in place so far. Because it’s just like your children, the more you continue to beat them, the more you continue to shout at them, the more they retaliate because this is not what they need in their lives. They’ve been used to that all along. It is amazing what happens when you meet these individuals at their level, in their space, at their time and not at our time. The interventions that we do, yes, it is crucial, it’s important and I will be honest with you, we don’t force any of these guys to come to the interventions. Some of them prefer to come on their own, some prefer that Chester sends a vehicle to pick them up. But every single time we call upon them they are right here. This is a south side initiative through Raccoon Street Police Station, yet we have Majestic Alley out here, we have Jungle out here, we have all the guys supporting us, Kelly Street. Why? Every single community that we visited, every leader that we’ve spoken to speaks one language – let’s have a sit-down. There’s none who has said to us, “I noh deh pan dat.” “We noh ready fi dat.” I have an agenda. All of them have been able to show us their babies, bullets that have gone through their houses, their own scars, and said, “I’ve had enough; I really want this to end.” But in order to do that we’ve got to do it together.”