Reggae recalls Coral Gardens

Howard Campbell

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

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SOME of the biggest names in roots-reggae will perform Saturday at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Coral Gardens incident.

The show takes place at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay. It features Mutabaruka, Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica, Mikey General, Bushman, Warrior King, Chronixx, and Chezidek.

Ras Ika Tafara is co-chairman of the Rastafari Coral Gardens Committee which is promoting the show. He spoke to the Jamaica Observer about the significance of Coral Gardens five decades later.

"This is important because the Rasta community was done a blatant injustice. It shows the price we paid to be where we are today," Ras Ika said.

The Coral Gardens incident began on Holy Thursday, 1963, in that St James town. A bloody clash between Rastafarians and police resulted in the deaths of eight persons -- three Rastafarians, three civilians and two policemen.

It reflected the widespread prejudice against Rastafarians in Jamaica and remains a flashpoint in the country's modern history.

The violence was triggered by a land dispute the previous year involving Rudolph Franklin, a Rastafarian who was arrested by police for farming illegally on land owned by the prominent Kerr-Jarrett family.

Franklin was shot six times during a confrontation with the police in 1962 and eventually given a six-month prison sentence for ganja possession. After his release, he returned to Coral Gardens where he had other run-ins with police.

He and two colleagues, Lloyd Waldron and Noel Bowen, were killed in the Coral Gardens stand-off. Two other Rastafarians, Carlton Bowen and Clinton Larman, were charged with murder and were eventually hung on December 2, 1964.

A symposium on the Coral Gardens affair will be held Friday at the Nyahbinghi Centre in Granville, St James.




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