SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “I knew Ms Natasha Schmidt for many years and whether she saw me at the government building or on the street she was always polite. More importantly she was a trainee at the NIPA/MIC construction course and was doing well. We had many discussions and it was clear that she was driven despite her circumstances, despite her setbacks - she wanted more for herself and her children,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said in a speech at the vigil for Natasha Schmidt.
“This is the wish of every parent, whether a single parent or both parents we all want more for our children. We want them to have more education than us, we want them to have better jobs than us, we want them to be better paid than us, we want them to have more opportunities than us.
“We also want them to be more behaved but less tolerant to accept some of the things we had to endure, we want them to be able to speak up for themselves and not be taken advantage of without being rude or disrespectful.
“As much as we want to give them more - we cannot do it alone. That is why the saying goes it takes a village to raise a child because we need our neighbors, our teachers, our community police officers, our social workers, our businesses and our government to look out for us and our children.
“The truth of the matter is that our children are not being raised by our village anymore, some of us are afraid of our neighbors - some of us don’t want our children outside and buy them phones and games to keep them inside. When you ask why? It is because of violence, in the home or outside of the home, it is because of abuse whether it is sexual, physical or emotional, it is because of bullying. It is because of silence as well.
“Being silent is glorified even though we know it is wrong and the saying snitches get stitches isn’t very encouraging but instills fear. We cannot let silence force us to stick our heads in the sand and pretend we do not see or hear what is happening around us. This has to stop.
“We have to watch out for each other and watch each other at the same time because government cannot do it alone, the community police officers cannot do it alone, the social workers cannot do it alone, the teachers cannot do it alone, the neighbors cannot do it alone and the parents or single parent cannot do it alone.
“So, we are back to - it takes a village to raise a child but we must take care of that village and those who live in it.
“I went to college in Washington DC and this city was and still is known for high crime rates and shootings. As a matter of fact, I remember one of my first parties I attended with my two cousins - there were gun shots fired. I remember telling them let us run- when I looked back, they were not behind me- they stayed- everyone reacts differently.
“Stop the Violence movement started then to me and that was 30 years ago. Here I am tonight as the minister of justice asking and begging to Stop the Violence. We cannot keep holding vigils or marches or wearing t-shirts of those who we have loved and lost to Violence.
“We must act and do what is right for ourselves, what is right for our village and what is right for SXM. We can no longer turn a blind eye, we cannot bury our heads in the sand, we can no longer be silenced.
“It is high time to stand up, open our eyes, open our ears and open our mouth. This is freedom and we must protect it by all means. Stop the violence,” Minister De Weever concluded in his speech at the vigil.