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West Kgn residents decry deadly power struggle among criminals

'Let peace reign'

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 28, 2013    

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FRUSTRATED about ongoing violence that has claimed the lives of more than 20 people in the West Kingston constituency since the start of the year, scores of residents yesterday staged a more than five-hour prayer walk to call for peace in their communities.

The residents, led by political representatives and the umbrella group of churches, flooded violence-plagued streets to send home their message in the initiative.

"We want peace to reign. We want the war to end; the killings must stop! It is too much," Sashawn Lowe shouted.

Lowe, a mother of four, was among more than 500 residents and church members who said they were tired of what they described as a deadly battle for power among criminal gangs that was making their lives uncomfortable.

"We have been having a violent time in the constituency, where some 20- odd people have been killed, including women and children, since the start of this year and this is just one of the initiatives that we are undertaking to try to restore calm to the area," said Desmond McKenzie, member of parliament for the constituency.

McKenzie made the comment after a ceremony at the All Saints Anglican Church Street on West Street, Kingston where the group began the march.

"This is not a political march; people from both political parties are involved in this initiative," said McKenzie.

Andrew Holness, leader of the Opposition, praised the effort and prayed for the residents.

"Today I join in the praying for blessings for people in West Kingston and surrounding areas," said Holness as he stood in Tivoli Gardens.

Added resident Hyacinth Johnson: "Too much blood shed; violence is hurting us all. We need to take a stand."

The West Kingston police expressed confidence in the effectiveness of the march.

"We believe this is an excellent initiative which the police fully supports," said Inspector Percival Phoenix.

The inspector said his team would continue to support efforts by members in any community that would contribute to the reduction of crime.

But even as the police spoke, there were some residents who were less than optimistic that the drive would have sustained impact.

"I am happy to see the step that we have all taken as community members and just hope that the peace will last," said Bailey, who stood on Raymond Place in Tivoli Gardens.

Sister Marva Bernard, from City Mission Church on Blunt Street, shared similar views.

"The hope is that residents will come together and maintain the peace as it is needed at this time," she said.

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