Murder and other forms of violent crime, in the Bahamas, had historically been seen as a malignant, but limited social problem. That is, until 1967. Prior to 1967, neighbourhoods and local society carried the burden, and shame of criminal activity. Crime had nothing to do with those in power, the minority-led White government. If negroes were killing each other, or robbing each other, or being violent toward each other, that was their business.

However, after 1967, after a negro-led government came to power, murder had most definitely become a government problem. By 1974, the Bahamian, as they were once known to be, had changed. They were now part of a national crime wave seeking tourists, and locals alike, as targets.

After 1973, the black-led government now shouldered the responsibility for violent crime. Local newspapers and the international press made sure of this. The press has never let successive Bahamian government administrations, since 1967, forget that Black crime was their burden to shoulder, and theirs alone.

(The Miami News, Saturday 27 July 1974)


BAHAMAS MURDER CLOCK STARTS TICKING

Crime statistics for 1973, the first year of Bahamian national independence, were not released until August 1974. Once they were released, it left little doubt that the Murder Clock had begun ticking at exactly 12:01 a.m., July 10, 1973, for the archipelago of islands.

The international press had been hounding Bahamian Police for the official numbers for several months in 1974, but in the end, they just had to wait.

What the international press wanted to confirm was what local Bahamian newspapers, like the Tribune, and its News Editor Roger Carron, had been reporting in large bold print.

(The Miami News, Monday 29 July 1974)

(The Miami News, Monday 29 July 1974)

Crime was out of control!

Joblessness was rising!

Tourism was sinking!

Foreign Investors had been scared off!

One year on after independence, many surmised that all of it was happening because of the black-led Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government, and their push for national independence. Bay Street merchants were still angry. Unemployment had risen. Expat work permits were slowly not being renewed. Bahamianization policies were only just beginning to take effect. Foreign investors were wary. Drugs had begun to flood the streets. A new inexplicable violent attitude had taken root. All of it was swirling, like a dark tornado, around the capital city, Nassau, forming a perfect socioeconomic storm for the newly independent nation.


AS NATIONAL PROBLEMS GREW, NEWS REPORTING ON THE BAHAMAS BECAME CRIME REPORTING

There were 16 murders in 1973, and Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, was to carry the blame, for every single one of them.

In truth, the world expected the Bahamas to become another Cuba, or another Haiti, after independence. A number of expat residents, and some Bahamians left the Bahamas under these very fears. All eyes were on the newly independent nation, and its leader.

When Lynden Pindling formed the new government in 1967, and took the country to independence in 1973, he gained something that he may or may not have expected. A Watchdog Press! More than a watchdog, the press stalked his every move, questioned every action, and doggedly reported every crime that took place in the islands.

Prior to 1967, local Nassau newspapers were filled more with London and international news than local news. Crime certainly didn’t get bold print front page headlines. After 1967, and certainly after 1973, every crime became the crime burden of the government.

There were more than a few in the Bahamas who were still seething over the push for independence. Even more were gritting their teeth that then Premiere, now Prime Minister Lynden Pindling managed to win the 1972 general elections, further cementing the journey to independence while simultaneously shutting out, the old governing UBP Party, forever.

The international press was waiting to see if all the negative predictions of dictatorship, nationalism and communism would come to pass for the Bahamas. When it didn’t, crime, the economy and unemployment took its place.

(The Miami News, Monday 29 July 1974)


16… Tick Tock

Arguably, there have been more murders, in the Bahamas, in the 45 years since 1973, than there probably had been in the 150 years prior to independence. Attitudes changed. Drugs came into the picture. Illegal immigration. Domestic violence. Alcohol. Gangs. Broken homes. Poverty.

Just about every social ill and aspect of life one can think of, has negatively affected the crime rate, in the Bahamas, over the past 45 years, and counting.

16 Murders, 57 Rapes, 348 Robberies and 6,123 Burglary, Theft, Fraud and Arson for 1973

(The Miami News, Thursday, 01 August 1974)

Of the 16 murders in 1973, one was attributed to an American citizen (subsequently hanged) and four murders attributed to three men from Haiti and a youth from Trinidad. Ten of the murders occurred in New Providence, five in Grand Bahama and one in the Family Islands

(The Miami News, Thursday 01 August 1974)


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