Our Police Commissioner rarely smiles these days, and our National Security Minister rarely speaks. Nor, frankly, does the media seem greatly concerned by the fact that – as I listed in my last blog post – at least twelve Jamaicans have been murdered in the past three days, and at least four have been shot dead by agents of the state.
The ongoing crime and violence in Jamaican society has become so commonplace, so everyday. It is like background music – elevator music, the kind you can ignore – purring along in the background, while we get on with our lives. Like an out of date television program that we have all seen before, playing while we get on with more interesting things. We discuss politics; the regulation of handcart operators and jet skis; the IMF; a primary school infested by fleas; fraud and corruption. But not that thing in the background. In fact, we will likely turn that thing off.
I am sharing with you – painful as it is – the names and photographs (where available) of some of those who have been killed over the past week or so, and a little bit of their stories. Not all of them; some Jamaicans are just names and ages. Some are “unidentified.” We don’t know anything about their lives. But they are (were) Jamaicans, like you and me.
We shudder, we sigh. We say, “Oh no, how sad.” But somehow we are not touched too deeply. If we allowed that to happen, we would suffer a terrible mental seizure. We would be overwhelmed. And for the media, the average, everyday murder is not worth reporting on. Only the dramatic, high-profile ones. In fact, many of us would prefer that the media did not report on crime at all – too much doom and gloom. And certainly let’s not hear about the injured ones, destroyed by gunshot wounds for the rest of their lives. Too depressing.
But please, just allow me to introduce you to some (not all) of the victims of the past week – dead Jamaicans, young and old, who leave grief and suffering in their wake.
Please spare them a thought. And spare a thought for Jamaica.
- Hopeton Livingston, who owned a car dealership in Hagley Park Road, Kingston called “Honda Doc,” was found chopped to death in his upper St. Andrew apartment.
- 27-year-old Sasha-Gaye Coffie, a legal clerk in the Administrator General’s Department, was at her home in Cumberland, St. Catherine with family members. A man entered and shot her three times in the stomach and once in the head on Monday, National Heroes Day (when seven murders took place). She was seven months pregnant. She and her baby died on the spot.
- 17-year-old Winston Green was shot dead while walking with two friends in Granville, St. James. The other two, aged 23 and 21, were injured and admitted to hospital.
- Another 17-year-old, Odaine Dacres, was stabbed to death on the grounds of Kingston’s National Stadium on National Heroes Day, at a popular water party. Dacres reportedly tried to break up a fight between a man and woman and was stabbed in the chest.
- 41-year-old Lloyd “Columbus” Brown, a cooking gas dealer from Nannyville, was shot dead on nearby Tucker Avenue in Kingston also on National Heroes Day, while delivering gas on his motorbike. Heroes Day celebrations in the Nannyville community were canceled after his death.
- Olivia Dacres, aged 54, was at her home late one night in rural Prospect, St. Thomas when she heard someone call her. When she went outside she was shot in the head.
- Desmond Campbell, 44, was shot and killed at 2:00 a.m. at a go-go club in Dam Head, St. Catherine.
- The police shot dead 51-year-old Solomon “Salla” Johnson in Dumfries, St. Thomas, claiming he pointed a gun at them. Local residents protested at the Princess Margaret Hospital, claiming he was a benefactor. The police say they took an illegal pistol from him.
- The body of a bus operator, Flavius Forbes (“Second”) was found floating face down in the Rio Cobre near the bridge along the Spanish Town bypass at Dela Vega City. He had not been heard from since he radioed that his bus had broken down on the bypass.
- An unnamed teenage student was stabbed to death at the HEART/NTA Skills Training Centre at Boulevard Baptist Church in Kingston 20. He was trying to intervene in a fight between students.
- The body of 48-year-old shop owner Dervent Aston Atkinson was found with multiple chop wounds near his burnt-out car near the Kenilworth HEART Academy playing field in Sandy Bay, Hanover. Atkinson had left for a party in Montego Bay the previous evening, but had never arrived there.
- 81-year-old Zachariah Angus was shot twice and killed at a bar in Fontabelle, St. Mary during a robbery. Mr. Angus had tried to resist the robber, who also shot and injured his friend.
- Romaine Baker, 24, was at home in Adelphi, St. James when three armed men kicked down his door and shot him twice in the head.
- 35-year-old cab driver Douglas “Carlos” Folkes drove a route taxi in rural Padmore, St. Andrew. He picked up two passengers and was driving down hill at 8:00 a.m. when shots were heard. Folkes ran from his Nissan Sunny car for about 400 meters before collapsing on the road.
- The police shot dead Stephen Mason, 20, and another young man one morning in Stony Hill, St. Andrew. Stephen was a student of the University College of the Caribbean, on his way to class. His mother said she was told her son was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood.Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak.William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”