We can't remain silent in the face of savagery


We can't remain silent in the face of savagery

Friday, November 13, 2020

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But for the police force and the national security minister, the silence surrounding the savagery unleashed on police Constable Kirkland Plummer last Saturday night is deafening among those who are usually very vocal when civilians are killed in encounters with agents of the State.

In fact, we are not surprised, because we have come to accept that some of those individuals have a lopsided view of the most vital responsibility of rights advocacy.

We have no direct knowledge of the circumstances leading to the killing of Constable Plummer in Harwood, northern Clarendon. For now, all we have is the police report of this sickening slaughter of a fellow human being.

The police report is that Constable Plummer responded to loud explosions and disarmed a gunman at what was actually a party being held in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act.

Under the Act, the country is currently subject to a nightly curfew beginning at 9 o'clock. The incident unfolded about 9:40 pm.

According to Superintendent Gary Francis, who heads the Manchester police, Constable Plummer “was in the process of making an arrest and met up on resistance. He called for assistance and during the process a man was shot and a firearm was retrieved, but the patrons in the party hurled stones and shot him, and he succumbed to his injury”.

As we said, we have no other knowledge of the chronology of this incident which also led to the fatal shooting of Mr Dwayne Schloss. However, that does not detract from the brutal slaying of Constable Plummer.

This is a road that we have been down too often before in this country. Too many of our citizens place very little value on life. Disputes, sometimes the most simple in nature, are often escalated into violence that, more often than not, result in death or serious injury to people.

The cruel irony is that the State has, for many years, been providing dispute resolution services to Jamaicans, especially in communities where individuals are more prone to resort to violence at the first hint of disagreement.

That effort, of course, has enjoyed some success, but we still have some way to go for a complete change in culture in which dialogue replaces brutality and which subscribes to the belief and practice that Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, that the forces of hate must be met with the power of love.

But even as we embrace those ideals, we cannot ignore the fact that societies can only function properly when there is respect for law and order and when it is absolutely pellucid that no one, regardless of their standing, is above the law.

The police have told us that five people are now in custody as the investigation into the incident continues. It is our hope that the investigation will be thorough, fair, and transparent, because there are now two families mourning the losses of last Saturday's night of viciousness.

An appeal has been made for anyone with information that can assist with the investigation to talk to the police. That, given the trust deficit between citizens and constabulary, may be difficult, but we urge people who witnessed what happened to speak out.

Silence will only serve to perpetuate a problem that needs urgent correction.

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