Mob killings. Extra-Judicial Police Killings. Police Corruption. Citizens Silence. Witnesses failing to turn up to give evidence in Court. High Crime Rates. What do all of these things have in common? A broken-down ineffective Justice System!
Jamaica is no stranger to Mob-killings, however, anyone who cares about a civil society needs to be very concerned about the rash of Mob-killings that seem to be on the rise in Jamaica. As I stated in the paragraph above, killings in Jamaica is common-place, there are killings of all type to include Mob-killings.
Many of my fellow Jamaicans argue with me on this, they disagree with me talking about the crime situation in my native Jamaica with such frequency and openness. They argue we should not air our dirty laundry in public, they argue there is crime everywhere, they implicitly believe that if we don’t speak about it it will fix itself, or no one will notice.
With this approach, I respectfully beg to differ with my friends. Covering up a sore under one’s clothes does nothing to make that sore better. An assessment must be done to determine why that sore doesn’t heal, is it diabetes? Is it as a result of a lack of white blood cells in the body? These are the questions that would have to be asked to address that sore, not ignoring it ,or pretending it doesn’t exist.
A sore left unattended will fester it will develop a stench if left unattended long enough could result in an amputation, or worse. Those are the stark realities of the crime situation in Jamaica.
The consequences of an amputation are devastating, a severed member is irreversible, yes you may attach a prosthetic limb but it is at best a replacement. Why wait until the need arises for an amputation when we can heal the sore and prevent the inevitable amputation?
I have been sounding the alarm on this runaway crime situation for two decades since I walked away from law enforcement. Our country simply is being choked to death as a result of runaway crime and incompetent leadership.
Mob killings are particularly alarming on various levels, they are bloodlust revenge killings, which allow people already predisposed to wanton acts of brutality to act out their gruesome desires on the innocent with devastating consequences.
They are irreversible acts of violence, perpetrated on people who are many times, absolutely innocent of the crimes they are accused, condemned, and executed for.
Recently well know anti-Police antagonist Peter Espeut opined that the police are giving tacit support to mobs who engage in mob killings.
Peter Espeut is a sociologist and executive director of an environment and development NGO. Espeute had a lot to say but I thought in his extensive diatribe this was what was noteworthy.
And what sort of example are we given by agents of the State? The reason Jamaica has one of the highest rates of police killings in the world is that of the same vigilante spirit that has caused the deaths of Michael Melbourne and Donovan Hazley. Many of our policemen – similarly emotionally immature – cannot control themselves, and when they are in the presence of someone they believe to be guilty, they choose to try, convict and sentence him themselves. It is reported in yesterday’s Gleaner that the Rev Karl Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, referring to the recent vigilante killings, asks, “Could it be that there is a sense in which some of us, including our law-enforcement agents, are silent supporters of some of these acts, hence, are not as repulsed by them or as anxious to prosecute the guilty ones as we should?” Rev Johnson wants to know why the police seem reluctant to prosecute members of vigilante mobs, and wonders if the police are “silent supporters” of “the mob justice, the community penalty”? I would like to put it to Rev Johnson that one of the reasons the police are reluctant to prosecute mob killers is obvious: that mob killer and the police use the same tactics and operate from the same philosophy; and that should vigilante killers begin to be brought to book, they, the police, are afraid they would be next! Both the police and vigilante mobs have little confidence in our court system to deliver justice. Too many guilty people hire smart QCs and get off on technicalities. Police killings and mob killings do not contribute to clogging the courts and do not put stress on the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to make rulings and prosecute cases.
Peter Espeut has long-held a grudge against law enforcement and police officers, I am unaware of the reason for that animus but once again Espeut misses the mark by blaming the victim.
Blaming the Police for mob killings is synonymous to blaming a rape victim for wearing a short skirt in public. Espeuts venom and decades-old bias against police make it impossible for him to see that the police are as many victims as the mobs doing the killings.
How do I reconcile that philosophy you ask?
Both the Police and the mob are exasperated with the justice system. Whatever their actions, their actions are symptoms of a greater and deeper problem. The problem of a broken justice system. I have warned that this would happen for years, the chickens have come home to roost.
Peter Espeut the sociologist’ vision and perception are clouded by decades of hatred for law enforcement. Mister Espeut may want to take a deeper look, or risk having his credibility called into serious question, if indeed he has any credibility left, or had any, to begin with.
Mob killings are a problem for police, as they are for ordinary citizens. They endanger the lives of everyone, including police officers, a juiced up mob is incapable of making rational decisions, it is incapable of assessing any situation or coming to reasoned conclusions. A mob is intent on one thing, the need for blood.
Many years ago a friend of mine was contracted to transport a group of people from Kingston to Saint Mary to attend a funeral. My friend Neville was an enterprising young bus operator, I was a young Police Officer, we had been friends for years, I operated a small business on premises owned by Neville’s mother-in-law, and I lived across the street from that location. Neville came to my home and roused me from my sleep that day, he wanted me to accompany him to Saint Mary on the trip. He didn’t know any of the people he was transporting. I was off from work, it was my only day off, I was dog-tired. I told Neville I couldn’t go I was tired and wanted to sleep, he begged and pleaded, and begged and pleaded, I eventually relented.
We journeyed to Saint Mary, I cannot recall the exact location in that Parish, but on our arrival there, the people we transported went up a hill to the funeral and we were left in the village square to spend our time at the local watering hole awaiting their return so we could head back to Kingston.
We sat in the little watering hole nursing a couple of Red Stripe Beers, I noticed that a group of people had started to gather, but I wasn’t alarmed, I just shrugged it off as country people being curious to see visitors to their community, something which didn’t happen every day.
Something eventually struck me as different with those people, however, as time went on they seemed agitated, they whispered to themselves, a few of them had machetes, and for some strange reason, I seemed to be the object of their attention.
One man pushed his way through the small crowd and came up to me, he looked me in the face and said: ” a yu dem a gu kill, dem say a yu poison de man we dead”.
It took me a while to mutter the single word, “what”?
The man continued ” yu tan de , dem a gu kill yu, dem seh a yu poison dem fren”
Neville looked at me, I looked at him, we were both at a loss for words, probably the only time I was ever at a loss for words in my entire life. A lot of things flashed through my mind. I did not know any of the people we transported to Saint Mary that day, I damn sure did not know the deceased, never met him, was this how I was supposed to die? hacked to death with my friend, accused and condemned to death and executed for a crime I did not commit, or even know about?
All was not lost, however, speechless though I was, we were not without options. I pulled myself back from the bright lights and the winged Angels that I envisaged, to a more earthly solution, that solution was my Browning Semi-Automatic pistol with an extended clip loaded and one extra clip also loaded, and one in the breach. I figured if I was to die there would be a lot of dead native Saint Mary residents going with me that day.
Before I went to the nuclear option I thought I would first try the art of negotiation. This is where training comes in. I decided if they were not responsive to negotiations then the first person who stepped toward me would get a 9mm bullet squarely in the forehead, I would stand still, legs apart, weapon pointed squarely at the next hero, there would be no flinching, that would be the way it would go down until I was out of ammunition, or they came to their senses and break for safety, whichever came first.
I stood up, pulled my weapon, and made sure it was visible in my right hand, in my left hand I held my Badge. “People “I bellowed, “I am a Police Officer, I don’t know what your problem is, but whatever it is, you got the wrong guy, go home and no one will get hurt”.
It took awhile to sink in, then all of a sudden it seemed like the energy was virtually let out of the crowd, shoulders drooping they said ” sorry officer yu look like de man we dem seh poison de man weh dead”
I was mortified but deeply angry, I could have ended up hacked to death simply because someone said I resembled someone whom they suspected of poisoning someone.
Ok I’m sure it took you some time to decipher that one, the only reason I brought this story up was to illustrate that those who claim to know why people do the things they do , or seek to discredit others or make charges based on old sores covered over by festering scabs, ought to be careful with their assertions, the higher a monkey climb is the more he exposes himself.
The Criminal Justice System in Jamaica is broken, no one has faith in it, all of the resultant symptoms I noted in the opening paragraph are simply consequences of that broken system. Left unattended there will be even greater and more consequential symptoms to come.
Jamaica needs leadership, what the country has is a bunch of lackeys on both sides, immersed in pomp and formality but lack the most basic understanding of what it takes to govern effectively.
It is not too late, but that time is fast approaching.