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Dancehall pushing crime — Bunting

BY COREY ROBINSON Sunday Observer reporter robinsonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 13, 2013    

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CRIME is on the decrease in the island's deadliest police divisions, but popular culture continues to hamper government's efforts.

Security Minister Peter Bunting reiterated the statement on Thursday, citing at least one dancehall tune as evidence of the social 'dysfunctionality' behind criminality in Jamaica. He made specific mention of its role in the deadly lottery scam in St James.

"I think that a national hero that we haven't named officially is 'Anansi'. Because Jamaicans seem to love... an anti-authoritarian element in our culture," said Bunting, before quoting the lyrics of the song Reparation by incarcerated dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel and Gaza Slim. The song was banned from airwaves last year, partly after coming under heavy criticisms for its lyrical content.

"As long as dem naah buy nuh gun, dem naah support nuh war, big up the man dem star from near and far. Dem call it scam but we call it reparation," quoted the minister, who was the main speaker at a Rotary Club of Liguanea Plains meeting in St Andrew Thursday.

"Big up every scammer weh mek US dollar, Western Union people fi give we more honour. Every ghetto yute fi a live like Tony Montana, live presidential like Barack Obama," he added, continuing his point.

"It's an amazing piece of propaganda for scammers. [But] bear in mind that St James has one of the highest proportions as it relates to homicides, and approximately 50 per cent of those murders are related to scamming," he said.

"Yet up to last year people are not connecting the dots, they still refer to it [scamming] as a victimless crime," he continued.

Police have attributed more than 400 deaths to the lottery scam violence in St James since 2006, including that of at least one elderly American citizen, who committed suicide after losing millions to Jamaican scammers.

It has transformed St James, one of Jamaica's tourist hotspots, into one of Jamaica's deadliest divisions, police in the parish have said. Among the other notorious divisions are St Catherine North, Clarendon, St Andrew South, and St Andrew North.

Despite the challenges, however, Bunting said his ministry will not give up in its fight. Last year, he noted, his ministry created two advertisements aimed at tackling the nation's crime problem from a 'culture change' perspective.

"St Catherine North, this is one of the divisions which has been heavily influenced by gangs; One Order and Klansman gangs. We had a reduction of 34 per cent of murders in St Catherine North in 2012; that is 60 less persons murdered," he said, noting that the reductions are similar for the parish of St James.

In the meantime, Bunting said that sexual assaults of minors declined from 108 in January 20I2 to a staggering 18 reported incidents in December. Last year's tally of 1,087 was the lowest in nine years, he said.

"What we see is that the contribution of the historical crime hotspot is actually reducing, improving the safety of our town centres," said the minister, noting, however, that displaced gangsters often take up shelter in other parishes, namely Westmoreland, Hanover, Manchester, and St Ann. Efforts are afoot to deal with this migration, said Bunting.

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