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Police action leaves Rastas fuming

Karyl Walker

Friday, October 19, 2012    

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POLICE action left several Rastafarians on Monday fuming inside the National Heroes' Park, after the cops stopped them from keeping a ceremony which they had organised to call for the exoneration of four of the country's national heroes from criminal charges.

The four heroes who are listed as criminals by the State are Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, Sam Sharpe, and George William Gordon.

The group, who goes by the name The 125 Committee for the Exoneration of Marcus Garvey, said police officers assigned to the Kingston Central Police Division told them that they were ordered to stop the function as it was clashing with the Salute to the National Heroes ceremony which was being held at the other end of the Park.

"Why don't they want us to have our function? We chose this day because we think a wrong signal is being sent to the next generation if four of our national heroes are still regarded as criminals. I wrote the police requesting permission for a march and to allow us to hold this function. Why?" attorney-at-law Miguel Lorne said.

Garvey was imprisoned for three months in the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre for contempt of court due to the wording of the 10 plank of his manifesto of the People's Political Party, which called for the conviction of judges who were in cahoots with unscrupulous persons.

He was also convicted of mail fraud in the United States.

Gordon, Sharpe and Bogle were all hanged for leading uprisings against the State.

In order for the heroes to be exonerated, a petition must be sent to Parliament for a majority vote on the issue.

"It is those actions why Heroes' Day was declared. It was the fight put up by the forefathers that has allowed us certain freedoms," committee member Horace Matthews said.

But the rastas were eventually given a lifeline when Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller was leaving the official function and stopped to find out what their grouse was.

"The prime minister came out of her vehicle and came across to us. She asked why the police did not allow us to hold our function and we were so far away from them. She agreed with our cause and said if she had the power she would exonerate the four heroes immediately. We just turned on the sound system and started our thing. The police must have been embarrassed," Lorne told the Jamaica Observer.

In addition to the four heroes, Lorne said that the committee had the names of more than 1,000 persons who had helped in the various struggles who also needed to be exonerated by the Jamaican Government.

"These are people who were all transported, flogged, imprisoned, and hung, and they should be exonerated as well," he said.

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