Mixed Reactions to Call to Order Anti-Crime Initiative
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Mixed Reactions to Call to Order Anti-Crime Initiative

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Mixed Reactions to Call to Order Anti-Crime Initiative
Entertainer Ziggy Rankin sings his verse on the hit single The Call alongside fellow artists Mr King, Prophet Benjamin, King David and Isasha during the launch of the Ministry of National Security’s Call To Order initiative at the Port-of-Spain City Hall on Monday. – Angelo Marcelle

There are differing opinions on the chances of success of the government’s latest crime-fighting initiative, called Project Call to Order.

The initiative was inspired by The Call, a locally produced reggae track by Isasha, Mr King, Ziggy Ranking, Prophet Benjamin and King David, in which they call for an end to the wave of gang violence gripping TT.

As part of the three-month Call to Order competition, young people aged 8 to 24 will be asked to record videos of themselves singing their own song lyrics set to the song The Call and then post them on Instagram.

Participants will be divided into three age categories – 8-12, 13-19 and 20-24 – and the winners will be those who receive the most likes and shares.

The winner in each age group will receive studio time and a professional music video valued at $10,000.

Despite being an anti-crime initiative aimed at combating gang violence, it has been met with mixed reactions, with one person on social media even dubbing it “Crime Idol.”

Hours after the project was launched on Monday, UNC Shadow Minister for National Security and MP for Oropouche East, Dr Roodal Moonilal, told Newsday: “I don’t think we can sing our way out of crime.”

He said the money should instead be spent on essential resources for police to fight crime.

“Regular patrols, not just during the day but at night. These are the basic issues that (Hinds) has to deal with.”

Contacted for comment Tuesday, criminologist Darius Figuera also questioned whether there was any evidence that music “fuels crime.”

“If there is no evidence to suggest a causal relationship between a particular type of music and criminology, then we simply play songs that are intended to convince people not to commit crimes.”

He suggested that any shift away from gang culture is a societal issue, as music and social media alone are not enough to convince people to change.

“The decision to take a certain action comes from how you’re socialized. And if (gangs) are socializing the next generation to adopt their culture and worldview, what difference would a song make?”

One of the artists involved in the project denied negative comments about the initiative.

Ziggy Ranking described those criticizing the project as “sceptics.”

“I wasn’t surprised that there were (negative) comments. I think that’s what malcontents should do, just to stay in character. But music is a very, very powerful thing. I myself, with some gang leaders, used to use music to calm the atmosphere.”

He added that he took part in a project called It Must Work, aimed at young people from Harpe Place.

“We were part of this project. Me, King David, Mister King and the music helped. We went into the community and talked to the youth.

“Music is a very powerful thing. It all depends on the message in the music and certain types of music that represent certain things. Sometimes before men go out and do what they need to do, they listen to a certain type of music to energize them and give them that type of energy.

MusicTT CEO Melissa Jimenez echoed similar sentiments and dismissed the suggestion that music alone cannot influence people.

“Music has the power to heal, to raise awareness, and even to cause destruction. It is an incredibly powerful medium. History and trends clearly demonstrate this, especially in the healing field, where music therapists play a key role.

She added that music cannot completely stop crime, but it can be a valuable element of psychological prevention.

“It contributes to positivity, healing and upliftment in communities and nations. Music reaches both the heart and the mind, ensuring that the intended message reaches those who need it.

“Like gospel music or tabanca music, not every song will speak to everyone, but sometimes a single song can deeply touch someone’s soul, given their life circumstances.”

Moonilal said he doesn’t think music can motivate criminals to put down their weapons because there are already plenty of songs calling for an end to gun violence.

“While this is commendable and we praise artists for their actions, I am not sure it will result in a decrease in murders and serious crimes.”

However, Ziggy Ranking stated that trying to introduce change is better than doing nothing.

“There’s no point in everyone sitting around and saying, ‘Music can’t do it.’ We have to try, and we have to try. It’s about actions, not words. There’s nothing to lose by trying.”

“We need to change the narrative and encourage positive music and positive attitudes in communities. If they thought about it, they would think about it because everyone wants life over death. So we need to give them a chance first and we need to do what we need to do to try to make a change.”

Jimenez added: “The world can never have enough positivity.”