Residents in several violence ravaged communities in West and East Kingston have marched recently demanding a halt to the continued violence in their communities. Some critics have been quick to dismiss the marches as inconsequential and meaningless. For decades residents in multiple communities within the greater Kingston metropolitan area, as well as Spanish Town and a few other communities in Clarendon, have been virtual prisoners in their communities. Communities like Arnett Gardens, Wilton Gardens, Tivoli Gardens, Dunkirk , Nannyville , and a host of other communities built by both political parties and packed with their supporters have had to deal with certain codes of conduct beneficial to the Politician and the” Don”( local criminal-enforcer).
Over the years politicians who initially delivered guns to underprivileged young men to ensure their hold on constituency seats , have seen that control evaporate as monies from the drug-trade, extortion , the Lotto-scam, murder for hire and other crimes superseded what little monies they could dole out. Eventually rifts emerged between those criminal factions. Empowered with semi-automatic and automatic weapons and a seemingly unending supply of ammunition, communities found themselves at war. War broke out between different factions on different streets fighting over turf. That turf is generally Extortion turf outside their depressed communities. With politicians and antagonist criminal supporting groups providing cover, the security forces find themselves fighting a losing battle , stuck between gangs and their protectors in Gordon House. After thousands of community members killed over the last 30 years some residents are finding their voices and calling for a change. I say it is a step in the right direction, marching is not a panacea, it is a beginning.
Residents have the power to put a stop to the violence by standing up just as they allowed it to metastasize by remaining silent. It will be a long slow plod back to taking back some communities which have not operated as parts of the greater Jamaican community for decades. Some communities have been unofficially deannexed ,taking their orders from local criminal enforcers.Generations have grown up within these communities having no concept of wrong or right, only catering to their base instincts of survival and loyal acquiescing and obedience to the dictates of the Don and their political leaders.
Recently the Jamaica Public service company (JPS )disconnected electrical connections from their power-lines in Arnett Gardens. These connections facilitated the theft of electrical power from the company. Invariably that cost is passed on to the captive paying customers of the company. Residents of Arnett Gardens blocked the roads , disrupting vehicular traffic to and from their community , demanding that the company reconnect the wires so they may continue stealing electricity. Marching will not solve Jamaica’s crime problem , no more than the police begging criminals not to commit crimes will. If however, it signals a reorienting and realigning of the people’s attention , I am all for it . Jamaica is a beautiful country made horrible by it’s people. At some stage we will have to take responsibility for what we have done with that coveted little Island. From all appearances we have demonstrated we are unable to properly govern ourselves.