Proud and not so proud moments

Image of a twenty-six year old Botham Shem Jean

THREE big stories caught the attention of the public this week, the first being the trial of Amber Guyger, the former police officer charged with the murder of Saint Lucian national Botham Jean. The second was a video making the rounds featuring a bullying incident on a bus carrying students of the Saint Mary’s College (SMC). The College has since spoken out about the incident, Principal Don Howell labelling it as “unacceptable, and stating that the school is investigating. The Principal went on record as saying SMC was totally against that kind of behaviour.

Parents and guardians all over the country were equally outraged by the incident, many verbalizing this week how they would have dealt with the situation if the child being bullied was their own.

The interesting link between the SMC bullying incident, and the also trending Amber Guyger trial was seen when one of Amber’s friends, Brenda Sales got on the stand. She said Amber had also been bullied in high school, and they’d found a safe space in the Orchestra Room. Much like many others who took the stand in defense of Amber, she described the former police officer as a “people person,” but said “she’s not Amber anyone”. Brenda said her friend never felt deserving of love, much less a big love, and because of her remorse in the aftermath of the incident, she no longer felt she deserved any form of happiness. On the day Amber’s family members spoke, commentators had questioned whether it would hurt the defense that her family had not apologized, or shown empathy towards Botham’s family, but they agreed that Brenda’s contribution seemed in a small way to help in showing a human side to Amber, particularly when she said the last time she’d seen Amber, her old pal had told her she just wanted to say sorry to the family of Botham.

The live coverage of the Amber Guyger trial had over 50,000 people watching at one time, before the sentence was handed down, and the viewership of the main live YouTube stream skyrocketed as the verdict neared.

There was a stream of testimonies for the defense, and understandably so as it would take that much and more to deliver a reasonable argument to match up to the prosecution’s heartfelt testimonies from Botham’s family, including his mother and father, older sister, close friends, and colleagues. It was clear from the onset that the defense would have a tough time convincing the jury that Amber did not in fact deserve life in prison for taking the life of the then 26-year-old who was likened to an angel during the course of the trial, much due to his own actions and way of living.

As testimonies for the defense mounted, Amber’s mother and sisters made an appearance, albeit short. One of the most compelling testimonies for Amber did not come from her family, but from a recovered addict, Lawanda Clarke, who claimed Amber through her lack of discrimination had been her ticket to sobriety.

Full details of the trial and of the SMC incident are featured in this week’s edition of the VOICE, as is the third highlight for this week, this time a good news story involving the long awaited unveiling of a sculpture by talented local sculptor, Jallim Eudovic. The grand unveiling event fortunately is not past tense, and Saint Lucians can still turn out to show their support at 3pm tomorrow (October 3rd), at the Castries Roundabout. All Saint Lucians are invited to witness the unveiling of the National Monument still in celebration of the island’s 40th anniversary of independence.

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