Vagrancy in Nassau
Published: Jul 13, 2013
In recent weeks a video showing an elderly Bahamian woman shouting obscenities at tourists has circulated online. Watching the video is troublin g. The woman uses profane and vulgar language at the top of her voice towards people who do not deserve to be spoken to in that manner. She also threatened the visitors she shouted at.
Apparently, the video is two years old. However, it has only recently drawn sharp rebuke because of its popularity on the Internet.
The video highlights a problem downtown. Vagrants tend to congregate there and engage in irrational, obscene and offensive behavior. Most are either mentally ill or have substance abuse problems. When they are drunk, high or lose mental control, they are dangerous.
As a country we should not tolerate vagrancy and use of abusive language in public places towards Bahamians or visitors. Millions of people visit the city center each year – mostly via cruise ship. The Bahamas has laws against vagrancy and the use of obscene language in public already. They need to be enforced in places such as downtown Nassau to protect the public.
Superintendent Ashton Greenslade, officer-in-charge of the Central Division, said he saw the video recently and has since cracked down on vagrants in the area, arresting several of them. If vagrants cannot explain why they are downtown they would be arrested, he added.
This attitude by the officer-in-charge of the Central Division is necessary but police must be consistent with this policy. If there is a crackdown for a few weeks then nothing more, the vagrants will return. If police are consistent the vagrants will come to know that downtown is not the place for them.
From an economic perspective, when visitors are greeted with obscenity when they arrive in Nassau they are less likely to return to the area; they are less likely to return to The Bahamas; and they are less likely to recommend the country to family and friends.
The Bahamas does not need these types of people as its ambassadors at a time when there is a 14 percent unemployment rate. We are enhancing downtown by creating a boardwalk, retiling the area and adding closed circuit television. Making sure the area is free and clear of vagrants must be a consistent priority too.