Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin yesterday recalled the chance encounter she had with the 15-year-old boy who was stabbed to death on Tuesday afternoon and insisted that crime is not a political issue.
Hanna-Martin was referring to the death of Perry Rolle, a ninth grader at T.A. Thompson Junior High School. Police said he was stabbed in the chest during a brawl with another student from C.C. Sweeting Senior High School.
When the House of Assembly met yesterday, MPs weighed in on the tragedy and offered condolences to Rolle’s family.
“The child in question, who is no longer with us, comes from a family in the Wilson Track area and as fate would have it I happened to be in the area about three months ago and I came across this young man with another group of young people,” Hanna-Martin said.
“…I remember asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up. I had no idea that at the time of that conversation that his lifeline had been defined this way.
“Mr. Speaker, this is the second child from that community who was wearing a uniform who has died from violence.
“This is why I think that on the issue of crime, we use it politically to point fingers and then we claim it as brownie points, but the truth is we are dealing with endemic social issue in this country, levels of violence that are sickening beyond belief and that are affecting children.”
Pointing to the death of eight-year-old Eugene Woodside Jr., who was killed after he was struck by a stray bullet while doing homework in his Chippingham home last September, Hanna-Martin said the crime issue requires all hands on deck.
“It is not a political issue, it is not a police issue,” she continued.
“The police have a very limited role. I notice of recent that we seem to think the police are the panacea.
“They’re not. They have one role, they’re law enforcement, and in Urban Renewal they’re supposed to have some proactivity in prevention, but it’s a much deeper, wider issue than the police.
“The Bahamas is a wonderful country, Mr. Speaker, but the levels of violence we are experiencing are dismal. It’s speaking very poorly to the diminishing of the quality of life in this country and our cultural norms as a people.”
While she admitted that she did not initially support police presence in schools, Hanna Martin said, “We have to find a way to ensure that children are safe going to and from school.
“It’s a human right to access education without being killed. So we extend condolences to this mother and we pray no other mother in this country has to face this kind of fate.”
Rolle’s family said he was stabbed three times before and that he was bullied.