This is the second blog we have posted on the subject of Gangs operating in Jamaica.
Recently the Jamaica Gleaner wrote a series of Editorials titled (Gangs of Parliament) these Editorials evoked passions on both sides of the issue, some felt the label was too harsh to be assigned to those charged with running the affairs of our country. They argue those characterizations are disrespectful, and does nothing to enhance Jamaica’s standing in the world.
Others on the other side of the issue argue the labels are appropriate , as our politicians are less than scrupulous, to the point some are actively involved in criminal activity. There are others who feel the Editorials were one-sided, slanted against the Governing Jamaica Labor Party of Prime Minister Bruce Golding. The Gleaner argued they were merely reporting on what was made public in the wiki leaks cables that were revealed for public consumption. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
The cables revealed information on goings on in both political parties. Understandably the JLP is in Government and as such has more to answer to. In the end it seem of little importance whether the reporting was fair, as there is more than ample dirt to be unerthed in both of the two political parties.
Jamaica’s political parties have been associated with criminality since Independence. Scarce resources have been allocated to patrons in all of the communities we now refer to as garrisons, Wilton Gardens, Tavares Gardens, Arnett Gardens, Tivoli Gardens, Thawes Pen McIntyre villas, and the list goes on. All of those communities were created using gerrymandering, citizens loyal to one party were amassed into communities depending on their political loyalties , those on the fence forced out or killed. The result, exclusive zones with clear lines of demarcation, the breaching of which usually result in instant death. It is a well know fact Jamaica’s politicians of both parties have supplied guns ammunition and money to enforcers to maintain control of these zones of exclusion.
Tax paying Jamaicans have long shouldered the burden of paying back the monies successive Governments of both parties have borrowed from every source imaginable , only to squander those resources on pork barrel projects run by their criminal henchmen. Every young boy growing up in Jamaica must be familiar with tales of the glorified exploits of criminals like Burry boy, Claudie Massop, Bya Mitchell, Jim Brown, Chubby dread , a string of others and the latest, and probably the most influential Christopher (dudus) Coke.
These men did not create themselves, despite how we feel about them, they were very much victims of the political Serengeti that was created by Norman Manley and Bustamante, brothers against brothers if they dared to have differing political views. This trend was continued and escalated into serious bloodbath with the likes of DK Duncan, Anthony Spalding, Edward Seaga,Ferdie Yap Sam, Carl Thompson, Trevor Munroe, Bruce Golding, Roy McGann, Leslie Lloyd and a long line of others.
The period of the seventies saw one of the darkest periods of political tribalism in the history of Jamaica, under the stewardship of the late Michael Manley. This culminated with the death of a reported 800 people in the elections held that year between the PNP led by Michael Manley, and the JLP’s Edward Seaga. Manley was unceremoniously booted from office taking with him his brand of democratic socialism, some refer to as a soft form of communism.
The truth is, people voted for their stomachs, supermarket shelves had become bare, basic staples were either unavailable or married to other goods poor consumers did not want and certainly could not afford.Richer Jamaicans had long opted for one of the five flights a day Manley refered them to on Air Jamaica. When the final votes were counted the PNP were left with 9 seats out of a possible 60 in the House of Parliament. Many argue vehemently that Seaga and the American central Intelligence Agency colluded to destabilize the Manley regime. True though that may have been, Manley had set a course that was a sure crash and burn for him and the country.
I dust around the edges with a view to giving you a brief synopsis of the reason we are where we are.
When we visit the subject of criminal gangs in Jamaica we see there is hardly any difference between those in Parliament and those who run the garrisons with an iron fist, dispensing jungle justice, handling scarce resources, and delivering the votes.
That is called maintaining the order.
Events in Tivoli gardens last May must have left some people befuddled at the behavior of the citizens of that community. After all most of us are law abiding people who call the police when we have a problem, we look to the government to administer to our needs vis a vis delivery of service, police, education, health, fire etc these services we expect because we pay taxes. We find residents of Tivoli strange, and even repugnant, however how many of us stop to think that they have never known any other way but the condensed order under which they live their lives . A country within a country. Where everything is handled within a structure , a Governmental structure, one that is better and more efficient than the one we pay taxes for but never recieves. Is it any wonder that residents of those community who have never known any other way, fight to maintain the order they know, and swear on their lives that they would die for the man that maintained that order?
There are some who are somehow put off when their politicians are classified as gangsters. We all know they were the first to introduce guns into our political discourse. We know they are the ones that built, populated, and maintained the zones of political exclusions known as Garrisons. We are aware they paid young impressionable young men to steal and stuff ballot boxes, intimidate voters to vote for them and burn the homes and kill those who do not abide by the order.
We see them on political platforms with alleged murderers, we hear them confess to having done things they were not proud of.( Political speak for issuing guns and ammunition). If we know that they do these things to maintain control of constituencies, irrespective of the wishes of the electors within those constituencies, how then can we maintain they are not gangs?
The answer lies in our post colonial mentality. As slaves we looked up to the slave master, even though he represented everything that was detrimental to our well being. we admired his hair , color, clothes, women, we even believed when he told us we are inferior to him because of the color of our skin . Today our people are still bleaching to look like….. Well who knows what they are trying to look like.
I recall the time P J Patterson was up for ascendency to the Prime Minister’s job, an elderly lady said to me “look pan im wan tun prime minister, an dont even hav likkle color”,. That elderly lady’s views represented what we are still grappling with today.
Black guys wearing suits, with huge homes in upper St. Andrew and a little education has replaced the wealthy whites that owned all the lands and were the great grand sons of slave holders. Education , drugs, and politics have made a small group of regular blacks very rich and powerful.
With all of the aforementioned said, if the hapless Police are to eliminate gangs, how do they propose to do so? The police Chief Owen Ellington earlier demanded that his commanders present him with plans to eliminate gangs in their sphere of command in a matter of months.
What Ellington in his naiveté’ demanded from those men, most of whom for the most part have no clue how to break up a fight, is tantamount to giving them baskets to empty the Rio Cobre.
Great cops, like Cornwall (Bigga) Ford, tough street cops, who know criminals, where they hide, and how to rout them, still cannot win this fight.
Despite the expertise of people like Ford and a couple others, most have no clue how to do this. However that is not the reason they cannot win. If Gangs like One Order, Clans man and others are to be effectively eradicated police actions must be preceded by legislative action. How can we expect effective legislative action when the Legislators are themselves part of the gangs, or are influenced by anti police forces in the country?
Unless Gangs are prosecuted as an entity, and all of the participants sent away for life as a unit , there can be no real dent in their activities.
Arresting one member, whether he is the leader or otherwise, does absolutely nothing to deter , or stop their activities. If anything what it does is show the gaping hole in politicians ability to do anything meaningful to stop them, as if they wanted to.
In most cases they are able to carry out their roles as leaders from behind bars with the help of dirty prison officials.
One of the political parties has never seen a piece of pro-police legislation the entire party did not oppose. Claiming it abuses human rights. After all their entire support seem to come from garrisons and the most depressed communities in the country, essentially the people who drink the cool-aid about their right to receive government handouts. People who put their stock in Government giving them hand-outs cannot achieve their true potential. That suits that party just fine.
So as the blood runs, make no mistake about the true nature of the politics . If they want to stop the blood letting they can do so over a period of 2 years. That means putting in place meaningful legislation that will put criminals where they belong. no one thing is a panacea , this one however, is a damn good place to start. Do not give the people false hopes about quick police fixes, that has as much of a chance as a snow-ball in hell of succeeding.
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