The killing by joint army and police services of Guyana's most wanted man, Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins, and his “Lieutenant” Jermaine “Skinny” Charles on August 28, has been greeted with relief by the public and by bloggers. (Another alleged gang-member, Sean Grant, was also killed, but there is some dispute over the circumstances of his death.)
Rawlins and his gang, operating from the village of Buxton, had managed to elude police for three years, and are believed to have been responsible for a series of crimes that terrorised the population. Rawlins claimed responsibility for a January 26 massacre at Lusignan, near the capital, Georgetown, in which 11 people, were killed. The dead included five children, and the murders—said to have been a result of Rawlins's rage when his pregnant girlfriend went missing—shocked the country. It was followed a month later by another massacre, this time in the town of Bartica, the “Gateway to the Interior”, where 12 people were killed. There is some difference of opinion over whether Rawlins's people were also responsible for the killing of eight diamond miners at Lindo Creek in the Upper Berbice area in June.
News of the death of Rawlins came when the region's attention was focused on Guyana, host of the 10th edition of the Caribbean Festival of Arts, Carifesta. Signifyin’ Guyana and Propaganda Press announced the deaths, but Guyana 360 has been the most prolific blogger on the story of the “Fineman Gang”, giving a series of updates as news came in that the Joint Services had found the men at Kuru Kururu and there had been a “shoot-out”. Finally there is confirmation that the two men have been killed. This is followed by another post with graphic photos of the dead men, published to prove that they had, indeed, perished. The comments that follow show some of the divisions in Guyanese society, most of them in language almost as graphic as the images of the dead young men, a fact noted in one comment:
Wow I'm amazed at the ignorance show by our own Guyanese people on this site. For the person who commented on the graphic nature of the pictures, what are your thoughts on filthy language?
For those who seek to justify the actions of these beasts with cries of marginalization, I pity you for you will forever remain entangled in the web of mental slavery that you weave. There will always be others to whom fingers will be pointed while the guilty will have absolution of their horrendous actions.
To those who doubt fineman's guilt, you have either lost control of your senses or are in such a deep stupor of denial that there is no help for you.
For Guyana, I think this is a day to be thankful that these two are no longer around to create fear. But let's not be complacent for there are still elements out there who share the mentality of fineman, skinny and some of the bloggers here.
For all the relief that people in Guyana may have felt over the demise of Fineman and his gang, several questions remain. There are those who say that Rawlins was more of a victim that a criminal, that he was pushed into crime by the circumstances of his life, and more than that, may have had links to some politicians. Guyana 360 reminds readers that a few months ago, President Bharrat Jagdeo had said he had seen a video which showed “prominent people” meeting with some members of Rawlins's gang, but it has not yet been revealed who these people are. And he wonders whether one will ever find out who helped Rawlins steal 33 high-powered weapons from the Guyana Defence Force, or where are “the millions in cash and gold that the gang amassed during its three-year reign of terror?”
GT … Keep it Real angrily notes that death announcements for Jermaine Charles and other gang members were accepted for broadcast by a television channel, and says this shows a lack of respect for “all those people who died senselessly by the hands of these vagabonds.
Finally, Living Guyana republishes an editorial in the Stabroek News which looks at some of the underlying causes of crime, and warns that the killing of Rawlins doesn't mean the end of violence, since he was “hardly associated with every crime involving firearms” which took place in Guyana. The editorial warns especially about drug trafficking:
which is at the root of so much of our crime – and so much of our gun crime especially. Until the government wraps its mind around addressing that issue and all its ramifications in a meaningful way, there will not be much of an impact on the general statistics of violent crime, as opposed to the high-profile mass slayings with which Rawlins was associated.
As Guyana tries to come to terms with the tragedies of the Fineman Gang, it seems the ghost of its leader may still be lingering: Propaganda Press this week found it necessary to remind the police service to remove Rondell Rawlins from the first page of their Most Wanted bulletin.