Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘gun crime’

Poverty and Violence

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 12th August, 2017

Brazil shooting smallThe local newspaper in Fortaleza is full of stories of gang warfare in the less salubrious parts of the city: fatalities, injuries and fights. The fact that many criminals in Brazil have access to guns contributes to the death rate. A friend of ours had his car hijacked at gunpoint the other night and many Fortaleza residents live in gated high-rise developments with security guards at the entrance 24 hours a day. But most of the victims of violent crime are not the wealthier members of society but rather the poor and especially the young; the victims and the perpetrators often resemble each other. One thing that unites many of them is a sense of hopelessness. Unemployment and especially under-employment rates are high and even middle-class families are finding it hard to make ends meet. Many food prices in our local supermarket here are higher than in the UK, yet most people’s incomes are nowhere near European levels. Lots of young men just hang around in the hope of getting odd jobs, such as guarding parked cars for a tip. Other young people take to drugs or prostitution, which form part of the criminal underworld, though underworld is perhaps the wrong word to describe it as it is so visible.

TemerPoverty and despair undoubtedly contribute to the level of violence that is endemic in so many Brazilian cities, especially at night. But there is something else which is significant and is mentioned to me again and again by people of all social classes: a seething resentment against politicians and others at the very top of Brazilian society who cream off billions of reais through corruption. President Temer avoided being sent to trial the other day, as a vote in parliament to commit him failed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority. But everyone thinks the whole political establishment is rotten, irrespective of party. The difference between the crooks at the top and the petty criminals at street-level is that the top people don’t shoot each other, but buy each other’s favours instead.

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Young Lives Lost

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 30th July, 2017

gun crime smallLast night, shortly after dinner, we heard gunshots not far away from the house, followed by police sirens, and this morning the story was all over town. An 18-year-old youth had shot dead another and wounded a couple of girls. The attacker was in turn shot by police and wounded, but not critically. He will doubtless now end up in prison — which in Brazil all too often means a struggle for survival in an overcrowded and brutal environment controlled by its own, often vicious codes. It’s because of night-time insecurity that we hardly ever go out after dark in Fortaleza, but instead sit snug and safe behind locks and grills, reading. In the daytime, it is a different world, a sunny resort where families peddle up and down the promenade behind the house on various fantastic bicycles. But then comes the night. Gun crime is a serious problem in many of Brazil’s cities, but before Europeans feel superior about our own native countries’ relative security, it’s worth pointing out that there are areas of my original hometown, Manchester (notably Moss Side) where guns can be obtained relatively easily. In London, we tend to hear more of knife crime and there has been a depressing surge in attacks with knives in the city. Almost always, the victims are teenagers themselves, so just as with last night’s shooting here in Fortaleza, young lives are lost. before they have really begun. And in a sense the same is true for the perpetrators. Such a tragic and unnecessary waste.

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