Peacemaker shot dead

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Peacemaker shot dead

Man who spent last three years trying to discourage violence in inner cities becomes a victim

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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KEVIN “Rum Ram” Clarke has become the latest victim of gun violence — the very thing he had spent the last three years of his life advocating against.

Minutes after 7:00 pm Monday evening explosions sounding like gunshots echoed through Arnett Gardens, a tough inner-city community in St Andrew Southern. When the explosions subsided Clarke, a Peace Management Initiative (PMI) liaison officer, was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

The 42-year-old was taken to the Kingston Public Hospital where he died while undergoing treatment.

Yesterday, the constabulary's Corporate Communication Unit (CCU) told the Jamaica Observer that investigators have not yet determined the circumstances behind his killing.

When the Jamaica Observer visited the community yesterday morning there was an unusual quiet in the usually lively community.

One resident, who was spotted close to the dwelling where Clarke called home, said: “If you notice him a part a PMI; him nuh gi trouble.”

The distraught resident said he was playing a game of cards when he heard a woman, in high-pitch voice, crying out “Murder” and he ran towards her.

The man said soon after he was told that Clarke had been shot.

Describing the towering man who sported a red patch in his beard and the front of his head, the resident said Clarke was a champion against violence.

In addition to him being an advocate for peace, the resident said Clarke had a massive appetite.

“If you a talk 'bout food, you have to talk bout 15 dumplings, you cyaan give him 10 dumplings him seh you embarrassing him; so him stay (him) a nuh problem child.

“The community gone, right now me and you a talk mi a look fi run,” the resident said, adding that one of Clarke's dreams was to complete his house.

“When you sit down with him [he always] talk about the house with the pool [that he wanted]. Mi sorry him nuh get to live to see the pool. Every day fi him dream is pool on his rooftop and we have to come a party, but him nuh see him dream. Dem tek weh him dream; life sad,” said the resident.

When the Observer visited Clarke's mother's residence, a stone's throw away from his house, his sister said she was in the process of cooking fish and ground provision, which was his favourite meal, when her brother was shot.

The sister, who said she prepared his dinner every evening, explained that prior to peeling the green bananas her knees became weak when she heard gunshots.

Said she: “Mi call out to mi niece and say, 'Yuh hear dem deh?' ” But little did she know that her brother, who was three years her junior, was the one shot.

Moments later, she said, her niece came up to her in tears.

“She run come and say, 'You wouldn't like know a who dead.' So mi say, 'a who?' But she nuh wah talk, so mi [asked again], 'A who dead?' She [then] say, 'Lawd God, a Rum Ram dem kill!' And mi say a lie. She say, 'A Rum Ram dem kill!' So mi say to my daughter look pon di pot and me go out a di gate and dem say dem gone with him a hospital,” she recalled.

Immediately, the grieving woman said she contacted her mother, who had not been at home, before heading to the hospital.

She said when she arrived there her brother was still alive.

“They said I must sign the consent form for him to go [operating] theatre. Dem say him have multiple gunshot wounds all over in his body and him have one in his head,” she said.

According to the woman, a doctor explained to her that they would have to remove his skull to take out the bullet.

Soon after, she said a representative from PMI, whom she claimed was her brother's boss, visited him and told her that his eyes were focused, and that it seemed as if he was going to survive.

“Him look like him did a come on, and mi say 'thank God. him strong' cause him always a say, 'Mi sister, yuh fi eat food and get strong. Yuh haffi eat food and get strong so that sickness nuh tek yuh body.' When him a eat food ennuh a all 10, 12 dumplings him eat, ennuh. Him nuh ramp with food. Mi cook give him, mama cook give him. Him eat the two dinners, him nuh ramp with food,” she said chuckling.

Hours after giving consent for the doctors to remove his skull Clarke succumbed to his injuries.

The PMI's Milton Tomlinson told the Observer that Clarke's death was unfortunate.

Tomlinson, who has worked with Clarke for the last three years, said he would walk various communities across the island in an attempt to help reduce crime and violence.

“Once you put it out that you want to go to a community to interact with residents to quell violence he would be the first man to reach. He would call everybody 'Management, mi deh here suh ennuh, weh unnuh deh, weh unnuh deh?' He was that type of person,” Tomlinson said.

“We are really hurting; he was never in conflict with anyone. He was a peace activist. He made an invaluable contribution to the process. It is really, really sad,” Tomlinson added.


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