“You have the right to remain silent…”
EDITORIAL NOTE (for the sake of reflexivity): When I decided to write a piece for Jamaica’s first Jamaica Blog Day, I did not anticipate that it would have been as emotionally exhausting as it has been. The purpose of this piece is to focus on the victims of security force abuses. The intent is to remind us that these are real people, with real faces, who lived real lives. The primary source of information was a search of the online archives of The Jamaica Gleaner. It was after doing that search that I realized the gravity of emotions and sentiments pertaining to this issue. At first, the task would have been to identify those whose life had been extinguished as a result of altercations with the police. Most news reports stated that they died in a shootout. In response to this, public sentiment channeled through the comment board on each story highlights the brokenness of our systems of national security and justice.
People who are desperately hungry for justice cheer for the death of these individuals, seemingly applauding a form of justice that is swift and appears to have been done. We weep for the many victims of crime. But year after year, having seen report after report of extra-judicial killing, it is clear that justice for these victims doesn’t rest in creating more victims. We continue to grapple with what really is the meaning of ‘justice’. And it is that conflict – that inner struggle – which has made this piece a difficult one.
After combing through a multiplicity of reports about security force excesses, I’ve listed only a few. I would like to say that the jury is still out on whether or not most of them who have died were deserving of their sentence, but…there would be no jury. Their voices have been silenced. For those that I’ve listed, the accompanying news report would show that their deaths, based on the facts known to media at the time, are indeed questionable.
They now remain silent. Who will speak for them?
May 6, 2003 – Angella Richards – 45 years old
May 6, 2003 – Lewena Thompson – 38 years old
“According to the citizens, an unmarked white Hiace bus with policemen aboard, was driven to the gate of the premises. The police got out and began firing at a group of persons who were on the veranda. Terrified children and adults ran for their lives.
The villagers said that at that point, the two men ‘Renegade’ and ‘Matthew’ were cornered by the police and shot to death on the veranda.
Persons who said they were eye-witnesses said that the police then went in the room occupied by Miss Richards and where Miss Thompson and her eight-year-old daughter had been lying on one of the two beds in the room. Miss Richards hid under the other bed.
Miss Thompson’s eight-year-old daughter said the policemen told her (the child) to wait outside under a tree for her mother. The child said she later heard gunshots fire inside the room, then shortly after saw the police lifting the body of her mother out of the house.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20030509/lead/lead4.html)
(**The officers would eventually be acquitted)
December 21, 2007 – Winston Malcolm Sr. – 40 years old
December 21, 2007 – Winston Malcolm Jr. – 20 years old
“Cries of police brutality and “we want justice” rang out along sections of St. Johns Road in St. Catherine yesterday morning, after the fatal shooting of a father and son by members of a police team.
Dead are 20-year-old Winston Malcolm Jr., and 40-year-old Winston Malcolm Sr., both of 54 St. Johns Road.
The police’s version is different from that of the residents. According to them, about 6:30 a.m., a joint military and constabulary team went in search of criminals in the St. Johns Road area and were fired upon when they approached a premises.
The police returned the fire and Malcolm and his son were later found with gunshot wounds.
The lawmen said that a 9mm pistol was also taken from the scene.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20071222/news/news1.html)
August 13, 2010 – Derrick Anthony Bolton – 15 years old
“Initial police reports said 15-year-old Derrick Bolton, who is also known as “Crabby”, and another man called Rohan Dixon, were killed in a shootout with the police.
Shortly after the killings, the police released a statement identifying Jerome Williams, who is also known as “Crab”, as one of the men killed by the police.
However, the police later confirmed Williams was not the man killed in the shootout, but instead Bolton.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=21843)
“Crabby is my son who is a dancer who stay in Brooklyn and practise him dancing, so me tell him not to come home until in the morning,” Geraldien Williams, his mother, told The Gleaner.
“The police dem hold him and dem ask him what the people call him, and him say Crabby, and dem say a him shoot the people a Tredegar Park, and a so dem kill him. It was a case of mistaken identity,” Williams argued.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20100814/lead/lead5.html)
December 28, 2010 – Gregory Pummells – 26 years old
“The residents say the police mistook Gregory Pummells for a man who had robbed a woman in Toll Gate, Clarendon, earlier.
The man’s mother claims he was shot and killed even after the robbery victim stated that Pummells was not the perpetrator.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=25319)
May 3, 2011 – Orville Wray – 43 years old
“AFTER A policeman shot 43-year-old Orville Wray, he walked back inside the Alexandria Police Station in St Ann, leaving the wounded man slumped and clinging to life.
Wray was then pulled into his brother’s black BMW sport utility vehicle (SUV) and carried to hospital where treatment would fail. These details aren’t in any police generated report, but found on a video uploaded on to the Internet.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110523/lead/lead51.html)
October 17, 2011 – Dwayne Smith – 30 years old
“The police said they had gone in search of Smith, who earlier had allegedly threatened one of his children’s mother with a gun, when they were attacked. According to the police, Smith attempted to exit a back door, but was confronted by them. They said Smith, who reportedly had a shiny object in his hand, pointed it in their direction and he was shot.
Smith reportedly died on the spot.
Daughter of the deceased, Sydonne, described her father’s killing as a cold-blooded.
“My father was innocently and brutally murdered by the police,” she said.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20111020/news/news6.html)
March 5, 2012 – Nikita Cameron – 13 years old
March 5, 2012 – Ramon Stern – 28 years old
March 5, 2012 – George Edmonds – 74 years old
March 5, 2012 – Shawn Tyrell – 25 years old
March 5, 2012 – Karlton Alvaranga – 26 years old
March 5, 2012 – Wesley Simpson – 84 years old
“Cameron’s aunt, Tanisha Stewart, said she was in the alley way of the large tenement yard with Simpson and the two sisters when the police showed up.
“Dem put the guns over the zinc (fence) and start firing,” she alleged.
Stewart said this was when Stern, Simpson and Cameron were shot and insisted there was no shootout.
“We need help … we need help ’cause dem a shoot we like we deh a Afghanistan or dem place deh whey have war,” Stewart said through tears.
She added: “So wha me waan know is if we no have no justice inna west Kingston.”” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120307/lead/lead7.html)
March 16, 2012 – Dianne Gordon – 45 years old
“Residents of the community are mourning the death of the 45-year-old office attendant, who they say was killed by police early yesterday morning.
Gordon lived with her husband, Hugh Collins, and two daughters. She was returning from a wake in the community where she had brought rum for the mourners. At least one bullet hit her in the head.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120317/lead/lead1.html)
March 20, 2012 – Vanessa Kirkland – 16 years old
“Reports are that about 9 p.m., Vanessa and five other people were travelling in a Suzuki Swift motor car when, on reaching the birthday party they were to attend on Norman Road, they were approached by a team of police officers.
Residents in the area said explosions were heard shortly after.
The Immaculate Conception High School student reportedly died on the spot, while the other occupants, including a 14-year-old, were admitted at the Kingston Public Hospital with serious to mild injuries.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120322/lead/lead3.html)
June 3, 2012 – Kavorn Shue – 21 years old
“According to the residents, at about 4 a.m., a police team entered Jarrett Lane and kicked open the door to Shue’s house and immediately opened fire, hitting him several times.
“A policeman tell me say them have information that there was a wanted man in there and them did come for him, but it look like them go the wrong house,” said one resident.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120603/lead/lead34.html)
September 4, 2012 – Kay-Ann Lamont – 27 years old
“The officer reportedly then held on to her hand and attempted to take her to the police station a few yards away. She resisted and her sisters protested. In the attempt to take her to the station, eight months pregnant Kay-Ann and the officer reportedly fell in the road.
Eyewitnesses said they began to laugh, which later turned to screams as the officer just “get vex and jump up”, brandished his firearm and shot the pregnant mother of two twice in the head while she was still on the ground.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120904/lead/lead6.html)
January 18, 2013 – Tevin Rose – 19 years old
January 18, 2013 – Shoyan Bird –
“While the police have confirmed that two men were killed in a confrontation with the lawmen, INDECOM has since identified the deceased as 19-year-old Tevin Rose of a Greater Portmore address, St Catherine, and Shoyan Bird of a Tanzania Park address in the Payne Avenue area.
“Two shots woke me up, then I heard about five more. I then look out and saw when the police put the bodies in a jeep,” a resident of the community told The Gleaner yesterday.
The residents are charging that the men were killed while they slept. A few women who claimed they captured images of the policemen in action said their phones were taken away by the police.” (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130119/lead/lead3.html)
March 15, 2013 – Andrew Brydson – 28 years old
March 15, 2013 – Triston Brydson – 24 years old
March 15, 2013 – Kingsley Green – 38 years old
“The men were slaughtered in cold blood … . They were no thugs … . They were law-abiding young men, and we are not going to have the police destroy their good names.”
In the incident, which sparked several days of protests in Westmoreland and in sections of St Elizabeth, brothers 28-year-old fireman Andrew Brydson and 24-year-old Tristan Brydson, and their cousin, 38-year-old chef Rupert Green were killed at a shop where they had gone to buy refreshments.” http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130323/western/western5.html
Yes, you do have the right to remain silent in the face of injustice. But will you?
– Durie Dee (@MizDurie/@THINKJamaica)