Crime scares Sumfest patrons

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

Saturday, August 01, 2015

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A St James businessman is speculating that the murder of seven persons in that parish recently may have been the contributing factor to the low turnout of patrons during the final two nights of Reggae Sumfest 2015.


"We did Sumfest this year, and the first night was a great success and, coincidentally or unfortunately, seven people were murdered in Montego Bay on Thursday, July 16. And, for the first time in the history of the festival, we had 50 per cent fewer people on Friday and 50 per cent less people on Saturday," said Robin Russell, owner of Robin's Prime Steakhouse.


"Was it a direct result of those murders? Well, it is hard to say, but coincidentally it happened, and it has not happened in the 23 years of the festival," he continued.


Russell was addressing Thursday evening's launch of Generation 2000 (G2K) Conversations on Crime forum. The forum, which was held under the theme Impact of Crime on the Economy, was held at the Montego Bay Community College Lecture Theatre located on Alice Eldemire Drive in Montego Bay.


The annual Reggae Sumfest festival was held at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in St James July 16 to 18.


Russell said crime is having a negative impact on commerce and communities.


"A lot of you are not young enough to remember a place called Sun Valley Club, or Yellow Bird, or Cats Corner, or Town House Restaurant, or even Georgian House Restaurant. These were places of amusement in and around Montego Bay. In fact, Sun Valley Club was up in Glendevon where Princess Anne went to... These were places where tourists used to go, and they no longer can go there," disclosed Russell, who added, "those communities are now a haven for gangs and illegal activities."


"So what has crime really cost us? It cost us our community. It cost us our youngsters that should be working and developing our country. People talk about brain drain, and how people left the country in the seventies, and what did we lose in Jamaica. Well, we are losing the same thing right now, because people who should be living in Jamaica don't live here because of crime. Returning residents that want to come back and spend their money in Jamaica aren't coming back, because they are afraid of crime," he added.


Since the start of the year, more than 120 people have been killed in St James. In an effort to halt the crime wave, the police commissioner recently transferred 200 cops to that parish.


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