Monday, May 31, 2010

Who is to blame?

Sergeant Wayne Henriques... brutally slaughtered by gunmen along Mountain View Avenue in Kingston.

by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | 31 May 2010
(Click on title for link to Jamaica Observer)

The past week in Kingston's history will leave us like amputees - eventually healed but never quite the same again. We are using some positive phrases, "tipping point", "cleansing", but the words stop in our throat as we count the cost in the body count. We mourn with Claude Clarke the tragic loss of his brother a horrible case of mistaken identity. Meanwhile, the target of this operation is nowhere to be found up to the time of writing.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the 41-year-old "strongman", nurtured in the lap of a previously impenetrable garrison? Is it the man who took this community from a slum called "Back-O-Wall" to a built-up community where one could only be admitted by lieutenants on guard at its entrances? Could it be Coke's legal team who did not persuade their client to turn himself in, despite pleas from the police over a four-day period before their eventual operation in Tivoli?

Could it be the church leaders from the community who silently watched the women of Tivoli conducting an illegal demonstration and declaring, "We will die for Dudus"? Oh no. None of these names will be called when Amnesty descends on Jamaica. It will only be the fault of the police.

We are not defending any alleged excesses by the police, but we must never lose sight of the fact that the 73 people who died in Tivoli and its environs last week, would be alive today if only Mr Coke had obeyed the law.

We will sit in our comfortable homes, in our secure air-conditioned studios and lash out at the men who must crawl in dark gutters to protect us. We will sit around our dining tables with our families and pick their procedure to pieces, even as their families wait in trepidation for their safe return home. I have been speaking to some senior police officers over the past week, and they are deeply hurt at the constant bombardment.

Could we spare a thought for Sgt Wayne Henriques and Constable Jason Davis who were ambushed on Mountain View Avenue and slaughtered by criminals, part of the wide offensive launched against the security forces as soon as the warrant for the arrest of Christopher Coke was signed? These were two of our many courageous officers.

The human rights group, Jamaicans for Justice, issued a statement saying,"Our deepest sympathies are extended to the families and colleagues of those law officers killed in the service of their country. The lawlessness displayed in some areas and by some people, since the announcement that the extradition request for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke would be signed, are utterly deplorable and cannot be tolerated in a free and democratic society."

We join with JFJ in condemning the lawlessness displayed by marauding gunmen who have attacked several police stations, including one as far away as Salt Spring in St James. We need to understand the depth of cold-hearted brutality to which our criminals have descended.

As I wrote in my blog last Monday, we the church must shoulder a good part of the blame for our nation's plight. All of us who call ourselves church must ensure that this tragic situation in Kingston never happens again. We need a proactive church to assign watchdog committees in every constituency of Jamaica, as we know that both PNP and JLP representatives have sanctioned garrison politics. We should have teams assigned to the offices of MPs and caretakers alike. We should learn their plans and partner with them to help their constituents to achieve self-reliance. If they are consorting with gangs, warn them, and if they refuse to stop, expose them. With CAFFE, we must ensure that no politician who is associated with gangs is ever again nominated to run for public office.

Jamaica's churches and we, their members, are accountable. We are more numerous than politicians and gangs - yet we stood piously by and allowed this to happen to our country.

As Rev Devon Dick wrote, "Let us not blame so much the unnamed woman for the affirmation "Dudus next to God", but perceive it as an indictment of the church which often engages in cowardice and inaction rather than confronting evil."

Dr Las Newman, president of the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology, had warned at this year's National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, that " Jamaica is no longer at a crossroads, it is going down the wrong moral and spiritual road ... None of us can wash our hands and proclaim our innocence ... All of us must accept responsibility."

Where is the energy, the productivity that Jesus promoted in his parable of the talents? We are the failures, even as we demand more of our leaders and security forces. We have fallen very short of the righteousness that we profess.

Let the heads of the umbrella groups agree on a list of actions that will ensure that churches engage in an organised and meaningful basis so that by collaborating with our elected leaders, we can deliver prosperity, not harm, to our vulnerable brothers and sisters. We must work to empower them and restore their dignity, so that never again will anyone be able to coerce them to defy the rule of law.


Marc Lockhart
@ Richard, I agree with you, bro. Everybody is just bent on playing this blame game. Throwing blame around will not help us. We need decisive transformative action by all well-thinking citizens. It seems the church is their banging toy; so everyone just turns on the church when things go wrong. Let us unite and rebuild Jamaica!
Christian Shaw
God neither slumbers nor sleep. I can only imagine how deeply the security personnel must be hurt by all the cry about their brutality etc. They are giving their lives daily for many unnecessary causes , causes which are oftentimes orchestrated by influential people including politicians.
Sometimes we just do not know the face of the enemy.I would like to assure these men and women of the forces that many in Jamaica depend on you to keep us safe and uphold the law . God bless you all.
Bobby Livingston
Despite the loss of innocent lives, and the cry of injustice to the poor echoed by some sectors of the society, let us all view these last few days with optimism. Golding ineptness has involuntarily open the door for change where our security force can finally performed their duty without political interference. This should be the final warning to all our politicians who have embraced these ruthless thugs for political gains. Next time around they will be better organized to cause instablity.
Richard Wayne
For a very long time many of you hypocrites did not care about what happened downtown (aka the ghetto). You sat in your ivory towers lived the high life and feted each other as the two Jamaicas emerged. It was the uptown white collar criminals in the 1990s that wrecked havoc in Jamaica and for the most part you were all silent. N ow that the ghetto is your neighbor you are all taking notice. Get off unnu baxide and help to make the changes necessary and screw the blame game!!!
Stephen Gunter
Re: Could it be the church leaders from the community who silently watched the women of Tivoli conducting an illegal demonstration and declaring, "We will die for Dudus"?
Was the demonstration illegal? If so, was anyone arrested? They were all caught on camera, so arrests should have been easy. Or, perhaps, it was a legal demonstration, described by many media reports as being so and non-violent.
Omar Kenyata
Agree with the a lot of this article but the role of the church she desires is a little tricky. Every time the church speaks , people say "shut up and stick to church business". When the consequence of ignoring the church becomes evident people ask" where was the church?" The Church comprises a long active force in society that by it's Lord's mandate CANNOT blow it own trumpet. Fortunately church has no power to impose only to propose and prod on National issues as it continues to work quietly.
Wa Tch
Could it be the PM and MP who interfered where he shouldn't have and allowed TG to continue it's descent into lawlessness?
How convenient that you have omitted the person who played such a significant role yet the church is to take the lion's share of the blame.
@Paul Gentles - well said.

Nicolas Henry
Well said ms Chin. my condolence to the families of the dead security officers. Thanks for your bravery, and I hope the politicians won't allow your death to be invain. I hope they will use this episode as a symbol for a better and safer Jamaica to come, so your children & grandchildren will have a safer country to live in.
tony williams
What is wrong with these privileged people. They keep harping on the role of politiciansin this sordid affair hoping to deflect the peolple's understanding of the real cause. The fact is the rich and priveleged have chosen, financed and used the political order to maintain their iron grip on their Economic and political structures of our country marginalising the rest to chronic poverty and despair. It is the struggle to rise out of this squalor that has led to the accommodation of the Duduses.
Chuck Emanuel
Blame the mal-contenders in the political leadership who has tacitly or otherwise encouraged and empowered the illegal actions of narco-traffickers, gun-runners, contract killers, extortionists and terrorists.
Now that the evidence is clear that these tribal/political ideologues were acting in concert with narco-terrorists and other criminal elements for political advantage, we must hold them accountable.
It will not be business as usual. Thanks to President Obama.
Paul Gentles
Yes,we are all to blame. But things cascade - as long as the PM have the power to tell the AG and various security ministries etc that "if you sign those papers you will be sacked" and no one enters this place without my say so etc. what can the ordinary citizen do?
Our greatest blame is not to have been holding those in high office accountable,our laws are governed in dictator style.
Human rights groups are effectively protecting those our laws are failing,why are we failing them?
Anthony II
We, everyone of us Jamaicans, failed the people of TG and similar places. We have all sat by all these years and tolerated the talk and gossip and the questions. We have done nothing. However, we need to move beyond assigning blame and to figuring out what we can do to ensure that TG will never see another incursion of security forces in another 4 or 5 years.
Security forces: I commend you for the sacrifices that you make each day to serve JAM. I encourage you to always do it right.
george watson
Security forces just keep cool. All well thinking Jamaicans both here and in the disapora owe you a depth of gratitude which we can never repay. In fact all members of the security forces who went into TG on this mission should be PROMOTED at least ONE RANK UP IMMEDIATELY.
If you get any obstructions based on your operations lock up the politicians of any ilk immediately.
Because of this foolishness, Dr. Eldemire, a gentleman who served his country with distinction and honour could not even be mourned properly. Rest in peace Sir, many of us knew that you were a decent man who loved his country dearly.

John Small
Thanks for the dose of balance. When everybody's hearts were in their throats on Sunday, worrying at the brazen display of criminal mayhem, they were begging thje Police to take charge. Now, all of a sudden, the Police is "wicked" because they died in fewer numbers than the gunmen.
Marc Lockhart
How did the church get into this? To me, this whole fiasco has to do with the nexus between politics and criminality. Period! The church is there to focus on spirituality and morality and may even fail in this regard. The problem is the heart of humans and human freedom, not church inaction or action for that matter. Why should we connect everything to the church? Somethings have a clear-cut non-church rationale for their existence. Let us stop the church bashing and the "religionizing".

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