Based on available statistics Dr Claire Broadbridge’s brutal murder brought the murder toll for this year to 321. Actually it is hard to tell, because there was at least one other murder the same day so perhaps the gunning down of Ronald Marshall in Enterprise was number 321 and Dr Broadbridge was number 320. Time of death presumably will rule on who won that morbid race, but these are statistics that should be cause for serious concern and, yes, anger.
I did not know Ronald Marshall, but I did know Dr Broadbridge. She was one of those people who invested heavily, with time, effort and much dedication, to the betterment of this country. She was a retired woman, living out her years in harmony with her community and, one would imagine, hardly a physical threat to anyone who would want confront her. Why the brutality of her murder?
Her death is horribly reminiscent of an incident some 16 years ago in which three people, John Cropper, his mother-in-law Maggie Lee, and his sister-in-law Lynette Lithgow-Pearson, were similarly murdered. Tied up and their throats slit. To be fair, those murders were solved relatively quickly and the perpetrators brought to justice, such as there can be justice in the wake of such loss.
What struck me at the time though, and bears remembering now, was the absence of real outrage. For some reason, the fact that a distant family member committed the murder explained away the violence. Worse than that, I recall the taunting phone calls from the public asking, no demanding, that we change our previous and public position against the death penalty. As if getting a grieving family to endorse the death penalty would make it any less of a useless, politically expedient and nonsensical crime prevention strategy.
I recall also the heartfelt, emotional appeal made in Parliament by John’s widow, Angela Cropper, who was then an Independent senator. She called, as Claire Broadbridge’s family now does 16 years on, for a meaningful strategy to address the mounting crime situation.
The most striking memory from that time however lies in the final sentence of a story that appeared in a newspaper in the United Kingdom. It read, “The deaths brought the murder count in the Caribbean nation of 1.3m people to 143 for the year, its highest on record.” That was December 2001. Here we are, in September 2017, 16 years later, and the situation is already worse than it was by 178 dead people.
While there is much to be said for the courageous statements made by Stephen Broadbridge even immediately after viewing his mother’s butchered body. He called for us to stay and fight; to take back the country from the criminals. While his sentiments may be commendable, there is a profound emptiness in that statement given our obvious continued violent decline.
What has brought us here? Until we can answer that question in some kind of meaningful way, there is little hope of “taking back our country.” Frankly, we have all been pretending at indignation for more than a decade; marching, fuming, politicising. It is time to try another way.