‘Too much gunshot’
Ten placard-bearing female residents of communities in the Kingston Central constituency, including a victim of recent gun violence, yesterday staged a peaceful protest at the intersection of Beeston and East streets, downtown Kingston, against what they said was constant bloodletting in their neighbourhoods, and appealed for a Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) to be declared there.
“Show the gunmen they don’t own the road. Peace wi seh!” one of the placards read.
Shedding tears induced by pain from wounds sustained during a recent gun attack on George’s Lane, one woman told the Jamaica Observer that she was motivated to take a stand against escalating murders.
The killings and shootings, she said, were fuelled by a range of factors, including the settling of differences between gangs following last year’s general election when Jamaica Labour Party candidate Donovan Williams beat People’s National Party (PNP) representative Imani Duncan-Price, to become member of parliament (MP).
The female victim was recalling bits and pieces of the events leading up to her being shot twice — once in her right leg and also in her back — when she broke down in tears.
“I went downtown and come back and was sitting and waiting on somebody. The person called me and said I must wait, and I was sitting down when I see a Toyota Probox coming down the road with government licence plate.
“Some youth siddung pon di corner. Dem did a go run and never bother run tru dem a seh a police. Di man dem just come out and start fire shot! Mi panic and couldn’t move, but when mi finally get up fi run off, mi get a graze on my leg. I was shot two times. I was shot in the back and it lodge in my chest,” she explained.
Jennifer Newman, the PNP caretaker for the Rae Town division, which falls within the constituency, told the Observer that many Kingston Central communities are accustomed to joint police/military operations, but when those missions are over, criminals move in to strike. Therefore, she said, a ZOSO would be ideal, because the security forces would be based there on a more consistent basis.
“When you have a Zone of Special Operations, you will have a stationary area where police and soldiers will be and that way they [gunmen] will think twice before coming. Right now, the police are there and are trying their best, but as the police move, so do the gunmen. They know when the police move from here to there and they come and strike,” Newman said.
“We are calling on the Government to give us a Zone of Special Operations in Central Kingston. The PNP caretaker has made several calls, because we have lost so many persons to drive-by shootings,” she added.
“We need more police and soldiers on the ground because a week doesn’t pass by without murders. Central Kingston is not just Rae Town, but is also Allman Town, Franklyn Town and Campbell Town, and you would have noticed that this weekend a mother and son were shot and killed in their home on Elletson Road. This has been happening all over the constituency and this has been the case since we had the general election last year. We need the Government to take a stand and to secure us. We need more police and soldiers in the area and we need for them to invest in the young people and put social programmes in place to help the young people,” Newman argued.
One of the protesters, who lives on Wildman Street in a section of the constituency called Spoilers, lamented that many people from her community are afraid to even venture to nearby shops.
“Too much gunshot and we can’t go to shop in peace! We tired a it! We fed up! It real bad. Every day gunshot fire and we tired a it now! The MP nuh seem fi business wid we round yah. Nuh light nuh deh pon Wildman Street, a pure darkness round deh a night time. Wednesday night when shooting gwaan, a pure darkness,” the resident said.
Another of the protesters, who used her placard to hide her face from the camera, lamented that her three male sons are in danger due to the unpredictability of gun violence. “A three bwoy pickney mi have and dem affi go a school,” she said.
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