G2K a no-show, but PNPYO supports Mario Deane
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The People's National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) yesterday staged a demonstration in the historic Sam Sharpe Square over the controversial death of 31-year-old Mario Deane, who was beaten while in police custody.
The media was informed that the demonstration would have been a combined effort of the PNPYO and Generation 2000 (G2K), the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) young professional arm.
However, yesterday G2K, which failed to show, stated in a news release that it was only at the "11th hour" that they were informed of the proposed joint protest.
"Unfortunately, it was only yesterday (Friday) evening that the planned protest was brought to our attention, at which time we indicated that if it were to be a joint initiative we would need some time to agree on the parameters, including the overarching objective and follow-up plans for sustainability. We wish the PNPYO well in this initiative and we are happy that they are joining us in the call for more attention to be paid to the plight of persons in the care of the state," said Dwight Crawford, chairman of G2K West.
In the meantime, the demonstration saw placard-waving demonstrators, clad mostly in white T-shirts chanting for justice in Sam Sharpe Square, before moving on to the Barnett Street Police Station.
One of the demonstrators, Carmaleta Harrison, general secretary of the PNPYO, stated that the demonstration was specifically staged against extra-judicial killings carried out by members of the State's security forces.
"Today we are here protesting against extra-judicial killings. We believe that as a youth organisation we must take a stand. In 2010, over 10 persons were killed by the hands of the State. In 2014 three persons already have met the same demise. So we believe we should come out and take a stand," Harrison said.
"It is more than the Mario Deane issue. We are taking a stand against future extra-judicial killings that will take place," Harrison continued.
Meanwhile, Tricia Harris Smiley, the PNP councillor for the Port Maria Division in St Mary, who is also one of the appointed PNPYO vice presidents, noted that she was in Montego Bay to reinforce the stance of the youth in the PNP Region Six.
"I am here to support Region Six on this venture because I am sure that every single soul in Jamaica, worse if you are a parent, there is no way you could be pleased with what has happened to Mario Deane," Harris Smiley said.
"We are demanding from the police in Jamaica, and from Montego Bay to be specific, the truth. We believe that there are too many cover-ups and we believe that Mario Deane's death should not go like the others," the councillor said.
Coincidentally, on Friday a similar call for the truth came from the chairman of the St James Ministers' Fraternal, Rev Glendon Powell.
"We are very concerned about it. We lend our support and our sympathy to the family and all we would like to know is that out of this, the truth come forward. When people are suffering this kind of grief, all that I think would bring some kind of stability is getting the truth," the man of the cloth told the Sunday Observer during an interview on Friday.
"Now I personally can't say it is the police and I can't say it is not the police. I can't say it is the inmates, but the fact is that this man is now dead and somebody has done the act. And all I am simply saying is, let's hear the truth so that it can set us free," Rev Powell stated.
Rev Powell was one of two clergymen who visited Marvin Orr, one of the two men charged in the beating death of Mario Deane. Orr was on Thursday involved in an altercation with two other inmates at the Barnett Street Police Station.
Orr was left with a swollen face and bruises to one of his legs. He has since been transferred out of the parish, the Montego Bay police confirmed.
Rev Powell, who was accompanied by Rev Conrad Pitkin, chairman of the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches, said that he was assured by Orr that he was not beaten by the police.
"When I saw Orr yesterday (Thursday) he was pretty calm, he was taken to the Cornwall Regional Hospital for treatment. He had a cut on his knee and somewhere on his face was a little swollen. We asked him if he was beaten by the police he said no. We also asked that he be transferred from that particular station so he is now in another facility," Rev Powell revealed.
Deane was arrested for possession of a small amount of ganja and was taken to the police station to be processed. The police alleged that he was being offered station bail for the offence but failed to give them the required information, forcing them to keep him in custody.
But a friend who went to post bail for him said that the process was almost finished when Deane expressed his dislike for a policewoman, who retaliated by keeping him in custody. The friend said that he was told to return at 5:00 pm as she would be keeping him a little longer. However, the man said that he grew suspicious and returned to the station at 3:00 pm only to be informed that Deane, who had been in perfect health only hours earlier, was taken to hospital by the police.
Deane slipped into a coma and never recovered. He died on Independence Day.