Bleed. This means “to emit blood; to draw blood from surgery.” Far from life-saving surgery, Kemba Olufemi got around 90 gun-butt blows to her head by ex-lover Lloyd Logan last Monday, 11 am, at Pointe-a-Pierre Tropical Plaza car park. Media reports said blood flowed as she stumbled to get up while Logan, 62, walked to his car, committing suicide with poison. Ms Olufemi, 52, recovered while in hospital. I am lucky to be alive, she said.
Video showed while passing vehicles and bystanders were reportedly present, Olufemi was left bleeding. “Savage,” one front-page banner headline declared. “Brutalised” screamed another front page. “Bystanders refused to help,” “No one intervened,” headlined inside pages. And TV lead stories with Logan repeatedly hammering Olufemi visually reminded us of how open-season violence now permeates the country, much of the brutality inflicted upon women. Three issues here.
Firstly, should passing drivers or bystanders have rushed to help? Who would go to help when the enraged man had a gun in action? Suppose in vigilante-style, a man had rushed across and shot Logan? Would that have been “reasonable force” or not? Social psychological research repeatedly showed bystander intervention, as proactive action, depends a lot on the situation. Bystander intervention is puzzling, for example, in 1994, 30 bystanders in Queens, New York, refused to intervene while witnessing Kitty Genovesse brutally killed. Prejudice also plays a sinister part, depending, for example, on whether a vagrant or nurse is attacked. As media reports went, it was unfortunate that no one rushed to Olufemi’s assistance as soon as Logan left. She was left bleeding.
Secondly, incidents and reportage of violent crimes and murders have helped establish two extreme psychological conditions among the citizenry. One, citizens have now crawled into their shells as it were, hiding and reclusive in their homes, always suspiciously looking around. The quicker they, their children and relatives return home, the better. This is part of the “me-first” syndrome – a grave loss of caring, compassion and neighbourliness. Fear of crime makes for very uncomfortable living. Last Monday, I got a WhatsApp message with a male, easily-stereotyped picture from a complete stranger, asking to meet me for a recommendation. Meet me? How did he get my number? Who is he?
The other extreme is the public rage against criminals – small or big – and the perceived lack of citizen protection and justice for victims. The thirst for revenge has poisoned the public mood, one result being vigilante justice, exceeding citizens’ arrests. The revenge syndrome is to tell criminals – real or imagined – stay far from here, because if we catch you, etc. And this extreme psychological condition is a bigger challenge for the authorities than the first condition. Police-partnerships are vital here.
Thirdly, everyday murders and violence are too much to bear. When you pick up the papers, listen to radio or television the rundown is like this : three murders here, man stabbed to death there, gun-man killed three in Laventille, bandit tied up woman in house and grabs $.2 million, woman raped in home invasion, state witness slain, doubles vendor robbed but still sells, burger vendor slain, man, 93, strangled to death with ribs broken, bandits strike jewel store, massacre – landlord, woman, daughters murdered, etc, etc – all these victims within a one-week period.
So human psychology being what it is, and in spite of what the authorities are doing, the “me-first” and revenge syndromes have unfortunately now become embedded in the nation’s psyche. Norms of civility now clash with the “me-first” and revenge syndromes. And so anyone bleeding or running from bandits is unlikely to get citizens’ help in some areas. In other areas, if the bandit is seen or caught, well, call the ambulance quickly.
Now it makes you feel good when you help someone in distress – especially blessed when others in better position to help refuse to help, and you intervene. This is the story of the “Good Samaritan.” For various reasons there were no good Samaritans for bleeding Ms Olefumi.
It takes a village? No more. The “me-first” syndrome, driven by fear of crime and survival instincts, now dwells behind heavily-tinted windows, locked doors, gated communities, town-houses and multi-storied condominiums – for those who can afford it. Poor taxi-driver Kemba Olufemi.