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Protest is a means to what end?

Dear Sir,

I want to exemplify a matter that happened between 1977 and 1985, and extract a lesson from that history which continues to hamper our progress today.

In 1977 after the riots, I brought together a six-man committee with a question put before them contesting which area, Dockyard or North Hamilton, was more suited and appropriate for an economic renaissance for the black community.

The premise was based on the opinion that the black masses were economically frustrated due to disadvantages and had negative protest patterns which yielded no returns.

The question was further predicated on the notion that a more affirmative reaction to the black frustration would be an economic development that could engorge the disadvantaged population.

Dockyard, because of its numerous possibilities with a port, beach and commercial area potential, became the preferred site.

I took the matter first to Dame Lois Browne-Evans, who rejected the approach, then to then premier, Sir David Gibbons, who accepted and got $10 million seed capital approved in Parliament.

Sir David unfortunately lost his premiership. I contend that had he been premier, all that I strove for would have happened.

Sir John Swan became the heir to the premiership and under his watch, Wedco was formed and my little group effort was sidelined. Now here is the real point, which can be easily evidenced through research and newspaper articles.

At that time, the political activism coming from the black ranks and supported and articulated through the then Opposition rallied around the tenants issue.

They protested against the new rents being levied on the sitting residents of Dockyard. The fight was led by some of the tenants who became the centre of protest.

The old guard took up residency as business owners and tenants in the new Dockyard on an effort that was not created by or for them.

Sir John was the patsy in the project as the big wigs carried on their usual monopoly. Sir David had the independent strength to carry out what he wished, Sir John didn't.

The blame doesn't lay solely with them — what about the lack of support from the people who needed this initiative?

Today, as was then, it's the same old dilemma. Whether it's the America's Cup or the state of the economy, finding a position to own your destiny is not on the table, while protest becomes the means. But to what ends?

We will protest against all the events rather than find a way to own them.

There are those who would resort to destroying the whole economy, rather than finding a way to grow and own a piece of it.

There are ways to turn the tide but it will require listening to another drum beat.

Khalid Wasi

A car burns on Court Street during the 1977 riots

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Published April 21, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated April 21, 2015 at 1:20 am)

Protest is a means to what end?

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