Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ex-thug on God’s side


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BAD MAN, thug for life, Death Row, Out Law, Black Jesus and F…$ The World are tattooed on various parts of his body. He also once lived by the slogans of his gang: Ride Or Die and Thug Til I Die.Shawn Marshall was too busy living the life of a gangsta to consider life’s positives. That was then.Since March of this year he has turned his life around, and is now a man of God. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of those who now live the life he shuns.Marshall, 34, said he was part of a gang for more than ten years.In an interview with the SUNDAY SUN, Marshall said he had a rough life growing up and that that was one reason he had joined the gang: one based in Black Rock, St Michael.“My life growing up was hard. My mother was a domestic worker and I didn’t have a father or a father figure. So I didn’t grow up with that guidance, and that is what a lot of the youths are growing up without.” He grew up seeing his sisters being sexually exploited by other relatives – debilitating images that remained etched in his mind for many years.“But I forgave,” Marshall declared.“Seeing my sisters being abused was mental abuse for me . . . . And my mother and I never had the relationship that a mother and son should,” he disclosed.Marshall, who joined his gang at 17, and whose “speciality” was robbery, told of some of his activities.“We had rivalry. We had ‘beef’ and war with other turfs – about three or four other gangs. We used to roll up on them and shoot at the men, and so on. “The men used to roll with nine-millimetres and Glock 40s and .38s. Drugs land here, and it doesn’t land without guns. “I wasn’t involved with the drugs, but robbery was my line; and I had this sort of theory, ‘God put me here for them sort of people who think them real cruel’. “I felt like I was invincible, like nothing could touch me; but God showed me He had a plan for me,” said the St Thomas resident.Marshall said that sometimes the gang he was a part of used other people to carry out their game plans.“You know there are youngsters that honour you; so things that you know you are not going to do, you send them to do. But if it is something that they can’t handle, you would handle it yourself. “They had a hit man on the block, and he died at age 17. His job was just to shoot and kill people. The last time he did [a killing], the next week he got killed.“We bought guns. We never landed without them – there are weed-runners and gunrunners in Barbados. We could get one gun for $5 000, depending on the type; and then we could get them more expensive too. “The gangstas on the street have guns just like what the police have,” Marshall claimed. During a decade of mischief and crime, and a life of uncertainty and cruelty, he has been sent to Dodds several times. But it was during his recent stay there, nine months of it, that he took time out to reflect on all he had done. “I am telling this story for the other young people out there; to show them that God changed me. If God could change me, he can change them. But they have to want to change too. “I think God put me in jail for a reason. I wasn’t vex for being in jail – because of the way that I was rolling. “God had to slow me down that year because I was on a fast pace; and he put me there to work on me. I had time to reflect. Maybe if I didn’t go at that time I would have gone at a different time for a bigger charge – maybe murder or something; or maybe someone would have killed me,” the repentant gansta testified.He hasn’t returned to the block since, and hasn’t smoked any ganja either, he insists.Marshall said he was now waiting on God to direct him when he should go back on the block to help him “change some of the youngsters out there”.He has a few regrets – among them the tattoos.“I wish I could take them off now. They may look pretty, but they are openings for demons . . . ,” he lamented. “I got them anointed with oil.”Marshall said that being involved in gang-related activities was not easy, and that it was a life no one should aspire to live.“Don’t take it up. Don’t start,” he warns. “Don’t even look at it. I have friends that are dead and some doinglong prison terms because of gang activities. “It might look sweet because you smoking and rolling with guns and with people who you think have your back. But, at the end of the day, if you are not one of the lucky ones, you will die in it.“I know some people are crying down the youths, but it doesn’t start with the youths. It had to start somewhere before,” Marshall argues.The former gangsta believes it started with the youths’ parents – and the parents before them. The children didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to be how they are, he insists. “It has to do with the Government too. You see poverty? It force you into doing things you don’t want to do.”

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