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Jan 12, 2012

At risk youths clean up neighborhood

Fern Lane is located in the St Marin de Porres area of Lake Independence. It is an area that has gained notoriety for gang warfare that has ended the lives of many.  Struggling to clean up their images, at risk youths have embarked on an exercise to rid the neighborhood of both the stigma and the filth.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This is Fern Lane, a relatively short two-way in the heart of PIV.  I’ve been living here all my life.  Since eight o’clock this morning an army of twenty-five has been busy chopping, raking and discarding litter that has accumulated along this stretch.  For years residents of St. Martin’s De Porres, particularly those born in the nineties, have been steeped in gang culture.  They have killed and many of them have been killed defending Blood territory.  These are the seeds of a community whose reputation precedes the true character of its people.

Winston ‘Brick City’ Harris, Resident, St. Martin’s Area

Winston ‘Brick City’ Harris

“I da from this street, you da from this street.  This street da from way back.  If yoh noh memba next door when yoh look right ova deh da Glenford Willoughby house.  So this street da wah original street weh yo if ih coulda mi talk I woulda give yo wah history of stories.”

Indeed, Fern Lane has seen its share of crime and violence.  Its intersection with Flamboyant Street was once the stomping grounds of Giovanni ‘Nose’ Lauriano, also a product of this environment.  Not far away is a graffiti covered Chinese grocery store.  The names tagged on these walls are a memorial to the dead.

Emmett ‘Dada’ Baptist

While the neighborhood has bred upstanding citizens and criminals alike the stigma of delinquency is one which it cannot easily shed.  Today these young men are making a bold attempt at cleaning up its image.

Emmett ‘Dada’ Baptist, Resident, St. Martin’s Area

“Everybody say Lake I, PIV, da wah notorious area, right, this da why we di show di people dehn that we noh really da wah notorious area.  Da noh everything fu we da violence and crime that’s why di youth man dehn deh out ya and we di show dehn we into work too.  Dehn provide job fu we [and] that da how we do it but if job and dende no get provide fu we dehn yeah of course violence wahn come round because man haffi feed dehn pickney.  Man haffi know how fi eat.”

Among them is Earl Gentle.  To his friends he is simply known as Burna.  In his own right he has been one of the more influential figures in the village.  Gentle has survived long enough to see his peers engaged in a productive campaign.

Earl ‘Burna’ Gentle, Resident, St. Martin’s Area

Earl ‘Burna’ Gentle

“I feel good that everybody di do something and dehn time deh dehn di look pan di hood different, look pan di guys dehn different that yeah di guys dehn wahn mek wah difference.  Di guys dehn, you know, wahn do something betta, you know, fi dehn self, you know weh a mean.  Same way eena di sense that yo dehn di do wahn job and dehn di get paid fi ahn lee job and when Friday come yoh know dehn could ker home wah lee money should in case dehn gah wah lee family or yoh know, yoh know weh ah mean, yoh know how di thing run, yo check.”

The initiative began three and a half months ago, following a citywide ceasefire among rival gangs.  Volunteering his time is local radio disc jockey Brick City.  Their first day on the job ended in bloodshed.

Winston ‘Brick City’ Harris

“Actually if you could recall when this program first start, the first day eight o’clock di mawnin some ah dehn guys dehn mi get shot yo know.  Dehn coulda mi back down and noh work but fi show that dehn wahn work, you know, dehn put that aside and dehn staat to work.”

With them that morning was Emmett Baptist.  According to him and his workmen they are trying their best to fulfill their end of an agreement that was struck with government officials in September of last year.  Meaningful employment will be provided, it was promised, as long as they are serious about keeping the peace.  Therein lies the importance of the existing truce.

Emmett ‘Dada’ Baptist

“As far as we concerned the prime minister he state that the project da as long as di gang membas dehn hold dehn end a di bargain di project wah continue.  As long as di project continue da because di gang bangas dehn hold dehn end ah di bargain.  So now if we di hold fu we end a di bargain most naturally we expect dehn fi hold fu dehn end a di bargain, if not dehn most naturally [thing wah happen].  Memba da noh only Lake Independence, PIV, da di only group weh dih work.  We got groups all ova weh di work and if every food stop fi all ah we weh wah happen?  Most naturally yeah, something wah kick off back.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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2 Responses for “At risk youths clean up neighborhood”

  1. cg says:

    although its all positive, you cant help but think how a few bad seeds will come in to wreck the hard work……hope it continues

  2. Louisville,Ky says:

    All politics aside, I must applaud and give credit to the efforts of the PM in listening ( some people say negotiating with terrorists) to the concerns of our wayward and less fortunate young people.
    I am extremely satisfied that instead of another slaying making headline news, these young black men, considered an endangered specie, are featured as gainfully employed and taking their place in society.
    As a black man myself, it bothered me that the path taken by some of our youth was one of self destruction. We seem to have turned the corner and for that I am optimistic. Keep up the good work, my youth.

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