Jamaica’s murder rate has again in 2003 soared to unprecedented high levels already eroding previous records this on the down side of what was a crazy year. Peter Phillips the Prime Minister designate has been chanting, “have no fear”. As Minister of National Security Phillips has presided over a murky state drenched in oceans of human blood, this on a island that still prides itself on being a functional democracy.
PJ Patterson is on his way out and crime seems far from his mind as he crafts the words marking the achievements of his legacy. It is “Black Man Time” and the historic 11-year leadership by this sociopathic jokester, which is solely responsible for murder rates running in the hundreds per annum. With his ill-gotten fame and rude reputation the tired prince has done nothing to curb the horrific crime scene. Repeatedly during his tenure PJ has held press conferences and presented state addresses with the hope of spinning while keeping the monster at bay. Age has not been an obstacle in the dimming of this poor mans career, let no one fool you, it is Patterson’s inability to make better the lives of an angry and hostile Jamaican public which is silencing before he reaches the coveted age of three scores and ten.
The people’s temper is reaching boiling point, they have had enough of the insults and injuries. The Poppy show media circus, apologies, launching and re-launching special crime management units, joint military and police curfews, spot checks, command posts, rewriting of new police shopping lists. Add to this the transfer of crime hounds which some how has led to renewed confidence in the commissioner of police Mr. Francis Forbes. The same cannot be said of the Minister’s of National security over the last 14 years. Knight and Phillips have played hit and miss, dandy shandy, and rue-shatta roulette with peoples lives. The monster of crime in the mean time has spiraled from Kingston’s Ghettos into peaceful Groves and Tourist Villas.
Public officials over the last 3 years have cunningly been labeling the crime wave “one of a unrestrained drug culture and a fight among so called Dons for control of the lucrative drug exchange turf”. It’s the youths of the country who are now hardened terrorists because they haven’t bought Patterson’s sham of a values and attitudes campaign. If he Percival Noel James were serious about values and attitudes he would have acted like a spiritual leader with a protestant character. Not just shifting with the things that Pop- culture considered to be buzz and bites but rather he would have stuck with that which he knows to be good and true in bringing a morally bankrupt nation to order.
Enemy of the State
The police with their strong arm drill have further hardened the streets to levels which Jamaicans have never witnessed before. Naturally communities of Kingston in September 2003 are in constant defense mode. Even when they are not doing any evil they are being painted as terrorists by a less than empathetic media. Many of the youths feel like innocent prisoners, as police barricade them into their homes and profile them as dangerous criminals. This as their neighbours from adjoining communities are also represented as gangs and held accountable for things they have no knowledge of.
I heard recently of a student who lived in the Mountain View area of Kingston, on route to school early one morning. A police patrol cornered him in the area, searching him out of disbelief that this young man could be attending school. In utter disrespect they asked the youth what he is going to school for. These are supposedly professional police men who are not only driving fear into Jamaica’s young but are now throwing our world into chaos by cynically implying that the youth doesn’t have a future in the city, so why attend school.
Socio-economic apartheid is now the new term some intellectuals are choosing to describe Jamaica’s wave of anarchy. Jamaicans keep playing the us against them psychology to their detriment. Ministers of government included along with talking heads of the security force consistently darken the image of politically entrenched communities and disrespectfully make out these neighbourhoods to be enclaves of enemies against the Nation-State of Jamaica.
This is usually far from the truth, only making for a more difficult inter- communication using distorted channels. For those young men and women who would want to have self-control, remain simple, and live a peaceful life, frighteningly they are being forced by Jamaica’s exclusive elite class to play these stereotypical roles of the underworld made for them through politics.
The Science of Victimology
Jamaica’s policemen need to be taught the science of dispute resolution not as authoritative figures but instead they need to be exploring the victims side of the coin. Local constables need to understand that yes darkness and ugliness is out a street but good decent people are also out there too. As professional security officers their responsibility is to carry out the job of law enforcement distinctively but with empathy. Talk to the young men with more respect, not like they are already criminals but more like how you Officer Sir, would want others to talk to you. Even a criminal should be spoken to with respect and I would think that the JCF training program would attempt in helping recruits in the mastering of interpersonal communication skills.
I have had horrific experiences of facing policemen in an encounter engulfed by a culture of racial tension. Having survived this event, today even more greatly I have learnt to appreciate some of the problems which make the victims encounter with law enforcement officials especially difficult.
If you have been profiled as a violent crime suspect in farrin you know what I am talking about. As a black man when you enter the United States on a flight from Jamaica, in particular if you are young and nervous traveling on your own into a unfamiliar airport, an unfamiliar city and before you know you are picked out of the line of passengers and taken through procedures that before 911 were hardly heard of.
With ominous dark clouds hanging over I stepped forward and somewhat felt uneasy hoping no unfortunate criminal record would be falsely branded on me.
Similarly I had a couple of unfortunate mistaken identity security checks on private university campuses. The campus was actually located across from my residence. One lonely Friday evening I went to the library and was returning home, a security van moved in on me asking questions that were just plain obtrusive. This happened again on another night where a whole team of security officers were alerted and they stopped me just as I was crossing the road into my suburban dwelling complex. This time they threatened me about my sojourn on the premises.
One of the things with all these encounters was the fact that in a society like the US the black man is always profiled as a deviant, a violent aggressor who is up to no good. Thus police officers are always looking for signs of fear, doubt, or what they think are unusual habits for black man.
With the University situations I actually was on foot just walking leisurely with book bag on shoulder. Most folks who were on campus drive a vehicle or traveled on campus by bus service. The officers pretty much said that stuff was missing from the main building and asked if I attended the University. I answered by presenting him with my ID and proceeded to tell him I lived across the road. He then goes on rambling until he pretty much says that I should be more careful next time. I lamented that this is a public library although it’s a private university, but he already was conditioned. The pedestrian black kid is a troublemaker even if he has license to be in the vicinity and lives across the street.
Trust No Police
It took living in the USA for me to have a different spin on law enforcement, better now than never still. Police must stop profiling communities and individuals, based on race, and social image. Its absolutely unfair because a kid comes from a community that is depressed, or he dresses in a manner that you think is fitting the crime profile thus you abuse and rough up a young man who is already afraid of the system because of so many pass injustices caused on him and his family.
The more the police break from protocol and impose discriminatory pressures on youths, emotionally imprisoning young black men, the more criminal intelligence will be hard to come by making it hard for urban police in particular to solve cases.
Just last week my yard bredda General Denny was harassed and victimized by police officers right here on campus, and all they can claim is mistaken identity because to them all black men look alike.
Common assault some may say but it is unfair, the yute called me just minutes ago he is bitter, his masculine identity is shaken, his humanity is shaken, because the police spoke to him using derogatory slurs and pushed him to the ground. Like me he wants to go back home to Jamaica and maybe home is safer for some of us but it’s not for all.
Our government and armed forces should make it apart of their duty to not style young men who are already marginalized by austere challenges with such negativity. They need to be working with our elders and teachers and spiritual leaders to try and bring out the best in the ambitious young men they come across.
The young black male in the ghetto inner city community is stereotyped by all sections of the national community. And if educational, judicial, political institutions cannot find ways to protect our existence who will protect us.
Protecting Myself- I mon a Shotta yuh nuh see it
We will have to protect ourselves, and protecting ourselves means becoming more aggressive, loud, and fierce because that is how a man protects himself in physical combat. In any war socio-political, racial, economic, armed combat has become the peoples Choice in the 21st Century. I know for a fact that if a police were to stop me even in the middle of the day when I am on foot and say get in his car while I am on the street alone, I would have a hard time doing that.
This has happened to me personally I am on my feet in a car park in Boynton Beach, Florida, United States. I am dressed in sober get-up, silk tie, olive green linen long sleeve shirt and black slacks with black dress shoes, coming from church actually, but am weighing my options on how I will get home because I had no cash and my ride wasn’t ready and I was far away from home.
A police officer comes on the scene and I am unsettled because I know policemen don’t just stop for friendly social chat. He clearly doesn’t know what is happening with me but has observed that I am not moving. He gets out of his car ask me a few questions and then instruct me to get in the marked patrol car.
Man I freaked cause I wasn’t going to just willingly make this person of authority carry me to jail house, or carry me to his hide away, I didn’t know where his head space was at and I know I hadn’t committed an offence. So I resisted his appeal and while in fear and deep trembling as he came to grab me to put me in the vehicle. I panicked cause the only thing I could think about is that this six foot 200 lbs white police officer is going to cart me off and abuse or rape me before carrying me to the jail house on fabricated charges.
I would be a fool I thought, knowing I had no witnesses, yet, just willingly jumped into the car with this strange officer who could well frame me or leave me for one of his buddy’s at the station to may use to cover their dirty tracks in the system.
As the officer approached and authoritatively began to instruct me to abide by his request, I moved to fight him off with all my mind and soul. This went on until the paramedics arrived and saved me, as they stopped the wrestling and carried me to the hospital.
This truly for me represented why I think so many young black man behave so hesitantly around men of the law because their has been so many abusive, and discriminatory cases, against men of this noble race and we are not going to just “ willy nilly” let our lives go down the tube without a fight. You may argue the officer was going to help me home, and that I actually endangered myself by resisting a man of the law request, but if I had to do it again I would act in the similar manner because I was afraid of the system. Fearful that I would be abused, because these men who carry such power and the institution that they represent don’t have a good record of personal encounters with innocent strangers, much less black Kids, they are accountable to no body.
Survival of the Wickedest – Even the General dem want to Arrest
My bona fide General Denny, mi bredda on campus, who graduated from York Castle College, St Ann back in 2000. After his altercation with the police his Dad came up from Jamaica to help sort him out and tried to help restore some of his confidence. Actually they went further and filed a report against the officer at the Police Station. Now that his Dad is gone, he Denny went to pick up a document at the station and again three Cops harassed my kid-bro hitting him in his head, telling him he is a young black man and so he is a trouble maker.
Man his story is chilling, the three officers went on to question him about why he was on the police premises and eventually gained information from within their system, information that should have remained confidential. He result they applied more strong-arm tactics on mi brotha. Iyah they heard he had lodged a protest against one of their buddies and so it was more fire, they took all his information, social security, address, telephone number, the works and Denny protested encouraging them to make the conversation more civil since the officers were only blazing him foul curse words. It was all an intimidation plot.
They eventually made comments about Jamaica, and Jamaicans as Denny referred to the fact that he has right in his homeland. Denny tried to do the correct thing of asking them for their Police Identification Numbers (PIN). They resisted but wasted no time in giving their opinion of Jamaicans. According to them the Jamaican Criminal Justice system is hardly better and that our police officers are inept, under paid, and corrupt so who gives Denny any right to be asking them to behave professionally towards him.
I wasn’t there, but just by General Denny’s revelation of the event it sounds like the officers were pretty much saying that young black men from eediot Jamaica don’t have no chat, cause our Police officers are murdering us off a yard, so, what is this Kid talking about lodging complaint. In these white police officers mind the General was just a trouble maker and sacrificing one of there well paid buddies who’s job was worth more that any Jamaican police officer wasn’t going to happen if they could do something about it.
You see when standards are poor a yard what happen to us when we go a farrin, them take the whole of us and abuse us cause the word out there is that Jamaica is a corrupt broken down Land, where civil unrest is raging and so Jamaican immigrants and visitors alike are seen as people who have just escaped terror when they come to these United States. Jamaicans from what I have seen living here in South Florida are seen as troublemakers, and that is why our men in particular are less vocal on this side of the sea. We just survive by keeping our cool while we live a Uncle Sam country. Babylon shut and buy out Jamaican immigrants mouths. It’s a reality that the voices of Young Black men voices in North America and Europe have become cheapened.
Yes Black people need the Police and we salute them as they protect us in circumstances that are distinctly obvious, where there is wrong in broad day light and witnesses present they usually do the right thing. However when a case is racially complex and not many witnesses are present, when the alleged crime takes place in a dark corner of a poor disadvantage part of town, the police habitually rallies back to their common practice of profiling black youths, exaggerating our actions while using ruthless unfriendly language to describe us, No wonder the temperature is rising in conflict out a street. Is a war we fighting and Black man dignity is being stolen in the name of Babylon’s law enforcers targets.
From the Streets After Dark– It’s the News Boy Phil Dinham.
About the Writer, Philip Dinham
Phil Dinham is a member of our Jamaica prime time news team. He remains a Jamaican citizen in Ft lauderdale, United States where he is studying Hospitality and Tourism management at broward community college. Philip is a certified media professional with over six years of experience in formal media relations and radio broadcasting. Comment on this article and all Jamaica Prime Time presentations by writing respective authors at [email protected]