Gangs at peace through Easter; follow-up session conducted
There has been a noticeable calm in the streets of the Old Capital since last Wednesday, when leaders of various Belize City gangs took the streets for a first-of-its-kind peace walk. Behind the scenes, a lot has been happening in an attempt to broker a truce, including a series of meetings that have been called by individual groups to resolve standing issues among each other. The result has been a relatively quiet Easter weekend with no gang-related incidents to report on. But it is a work in progress and today a follow-up session was being held at the Old Belize Pavilion. Present were leaders, as well as members of several rival crews and leading the peace talk is reformed gangster Deshawn ‘Jawhi’ Morris. He remains actively involved, along with A.C.P. Chester Williams and Diane Finnegan, in facilitating a citywide ceasefire. In an exclusive interview, ‘Jawhi’ provides an update on the progress being made so far.
Deshawn ‘Jawhi’ Morris, Motivational Speaker
“One of the things I’m most adamant about is that whenever you try to bring an end to a feud it always starts with one. And when I say one, I mean it’s one from an opposing side. That’s pretty much what I’ve worked my way around the city of Belize doing through the different neighborhoods that are warring. I’ve gotten specific individuals to sit down to talk and once I did that through a number of neighborhoods and I was able to bring them all together. The peace walk was really more so for the community. It was something to kind of, they’re so used to the violence, they’re so used to the hurt and the pain that I wanted to kind of give them a different visual image that we can unite, you know. People can unite. I’ve tried this actually before in the States some years ago and it didn’t last long, and I’ve learned from that mistake because where I fell then was that there was no follow-up after the pact was achieved. That’s why we’re here today, for the follow-up. To continue the way forward. And with the guys, I mean once we completed the peace walk, I mean, it was really just, can we get through the holidays without any murders, without any homicides and what I did personally for myself was pretty much all of the guys that you are looking at out here I specifically, personally called them and text them daily, myself. Even while we were out on vacation enjoying the holidays. I flew my family in, my mother, my wife, and my children but my focus was on the guys because I didn’t want anybody to slip and I didn’t want any minor incidents or disputes to ruin this big movement that we had. So I would check in on the guys daily, asking, were there any issues, were there any problems and the one thing that I kept wanting to put on their minds was that, God forbid, if something was to happen, not let that ruin the entire pact. Sometimes you’ve got to get back to the drawing board and do some damage control. And everybody, all of the guys that are here, they said they were all hitting me back, responding, just telling me check big homie, everything is good, everything is okay and everyday I would just wake up, just check the little news, just check the pages to make sure that there was no homicide. I knew that that was a big moment for them to achieve that. Right now, I think we’re on six days right now and I know that that’s huge, so that right there is what we’re about to get into to let them know. You’ve already proven to yourself that you can do it. So now let’s move, it’s what we’re going to do from this day forward and I want to personally congratulate them because I know when you come from a place where killing is a daily thing – to an outsider it’s like you’re celebrating, you know, five or six days of no murders but when you don’t come from a place that is used to that then it is a little strange. But from a place that’s used to death daily and daily, to have this stretch of no homicides to me that’s a big thing and to have this it’s even more bigger for the children, it’s even more bigger because they all got their daddy’s to come home at night. The mothers got to all have their sons come home and like I said, when you look behind you, you see a congregation of individuals who typically were never even going to be around each other and I think that that in itself is a reward. And I don’t want credit for that, you know what I’m saying, I’m more so just a mouthpiece, I’m more so one just to help these guys think a little outside of the box, a little. Try to get them to think beyond the rage and anger and the hate that they got because that’s something that I’ve worked on myself. I’ve been in this position, I’ve been in this situation with gang wars and I’ve had to constantly work, constantly sacrifice, constantly work on my mental, on my emotions to get beyond the anger and that’s just something that I’m trying to pass off to the guys.”