Combat Police Violence in Jamaica with Organized Working-class Resistance

If the Jamaican poor feel like they are being hunted by the police, they are not exaggerating.

The Jamaican police are very brutal in their policing of the African working-class in Jamaica. However, oppressive conditions tend to give birth to resistance.

Jamaica’s working-class reggae artistes have used their music to share the people’s experience with police violence. The singer Barrington Levy accurately capture’s the behaviour of the cops in the song Murderer. Levy reveals a common experience in working-class communities:

“Dem come inna my area want to kill off the youth
Nuh dress up inna jacket and dem dress up inna tie
Come a courthouse want to tell pure lies
Dem a murderer, aah”

The singer is blasting the widespread practice of police extrajudicial killings. He is also criticizing the air of respectability that the cops project in wearing suits and ties to the courthouse, while shamelessly telling lies about their coldblooded killing of the poor.

Jamaicans are currently observing the 6th anniversary of the tragic Tivoli Gardens Massacre, which was an act of class warfare on Tivoli Gardens, a working-class community. On May 24, 2010, at least 74 civilians were killed in theTivoli Gardens Massacre by a combined force of about 800 soldiers and 370 police officers. They were on a mission to capture the reputed gang leader Christopher “Dudus” Coke who was barricaded in the community under the protection of his armed confederates. Coke was being sought for extradition to the United States for drugs trafficking and gunrunning.

The residents of Tivoli Gardens have accused the cops of the Mobile Reserve of carrying out extrajudicial killings and other acts of brutality. Based on the investigative work of the Office of the Public Defender, extrajudicial executions by the cops might have claimed the lives of 44 victims of the Tivoli Gardens Massacre. The recently released Report West Kingston Commission of Enquiry 2016 that documents the circumstances that led to the bloodbath also lends credibility to the community’s claim.

The report states that the behaviour of “some members of the security forces was disproportionate, unjustified and unjustifiable,” and recommends a parliamentary apology to the “people of West Kingston and Jamaica as a whole for the excesses of the security forces.” Furthermore, the report supports the payment of reparations and provision of trauma-related counselling to the people.

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| July, 16th, 2016
Events R Us

Chief editor of The Magazine and writer for various national publications

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