(Jamaica Observer) A young, reformed gangster who said he committed his first murder when he was 14 years old confessed that during his days as a member of the Fatherless Crew he was contracted to kill Parliamentarian Dr Omar Davies.
But his refusal to carry out the order earned the wrath of the man who ordered the hit and who, in turn, tried to have the former gangster killed.
“Somehow I didn’t feel it was right, so I questioned it and he decided to get rid of me. He tried; he used family members, he has used my own, and even the female who I was with,” the former gangster said, adding that he has since fled the area, leaving behind all his ill-gotten gains.
The young man, who is now a Christian, made the revelation in an interview with the Sunday Observer in which he told how young boys in some of Jamaica’s toughest communities are being recruited into gangs by so-called dons.
“The recruiting process is simple,” he said. “There is nothing much to offer any young man who grows up in the community but the gun. Once you have the gun, you have power; and once you have power you can do certain things.”
The absence of a father, he reasoned, was probably the main factor in the decision taken by him and his young friends to get involved with the Fatherless Crew, whose original members have either been arrested or killed by the police or other gangsters.
“We didn’t have any father figure around us, and the don of that particular community saw that and used it to his advantage. He fed us, clothed us, we got money, jewellery, and any female that we chose,” he said.
According to the ex-gangster, he was among 27 teenagers recruited from Arnett Gardens and its environs into the Fatherless Crew — one of the deadliest criminal syndicates ever formed in West Kingston.
The former gangster’s hypothesis was supported by anthropologist and University of the West Indies researcher Dr Herbert Gayle.
“More than half of all gang members, I have found, have no father figure and have a very bad relationship with their mother,” he said. “Meaning that the bond between mother and son is just weak or non-existent, and it is caused from the mother being in prostitution or if she has more than one man in her life. It normally fractures a boy’s love, reliance on their mothers. Boys don’t like to see their mothers have more than one man.”
Gayle pointed to a 2008 study titled ‘Young Birds That Know Storm’, that looked at how teenage boys have navigated hardships in the inner-city communities.
“We have a bit of work now that we are focusing on multiple murderers, young men who have killed more than one person, and that is what we are finding,” he said.
Gayle also said that a 2007 study conducted by himself and Horace Levy from the Peace Management Initiative, as well as the late Professor Barry Chevannes’ 2001 study, called ‘Learning to be a Man’, spoke to the issue of the recruitment of teenage boys into Jamaica’s deadliest criminal gangs.
“The history of recruiting boys has been around for a long time. We first covered it in 1994 in Central Kingston where gangs were trying to recruit boys who were in prominent high schools, because they said that they don’t want just the regular foot soldiers, they also want intelligent youngsters within the gangs,” he said.
“All the gangs that we have studied do very direct and deliberate recruiting. The most vulnerable — the ones they recruit the most — are the ones who have lost their fathers, and have a mother who is not in control,” he added.
“They target these boys because these boys find somebody that they can trust and they will give their lives for their new ‘fathers’. Because the don now fills a void and there is no way to stop the dons from having complete control,” Dr Gayle said.