Rage in Tivoli

Residents burn McKenzie T-shirts, say they want him out of community

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, April 07, 2014

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THE ongoing deadly conflict in West Kingston triggered an angry protest yesterday by Tivoli Gardens residents who burnt T-shirts bearing the image of their member of parliament Desmond McKenzie and demanded that he leave the constituency.

According to the residents, McKenzie was taking sides in the feud which claimed its latest victims Friday night — 12-year-old Kawayne ‘Timo’ McNuff and 28-year-old Ricardo Lowe — in Denham Town.

Ten other persons, including Kawayne’s nineyear- old brother, were injured in Friday night’s incident which saw gunmen spraying a group of persons standing at the intersection of Chestnut Lane and Charles Street.

“Desmond McKenzie must go. We are giving him 48 hours to leave the constituency,” shouted one woman.

She was among a group of men, women and children — some wearing orangecoloured clothing in an apparent show of their disfavour with the MP whose Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) uses the colour green.

The ruling People’s National Party’s colour is orange. In addition to torching green T-shirts with McKenzie’s image, the protesters also spray-painted walls in the JLP-controlled community in orange.

“People are dying but the member of parliament is taking sides and that is not fair,” said one man who accused McKenzie of only identifying suspects from Tivoli Gardens and not those from other areas.

“Since this feud started people are dying on both sides. Is more than 10 people dem kill over Tivoli and other areas since the start of the year, so why is it that we not hearing the MP come out to speak out against those attacks?” said one man, who covered his face.

“My relative, Edward Black, who was gunned down last week by gunmen, was the latest victim and we hardly hear anything about his case,” said one woman.

“The member of parliament is being unfair and we want him to go,” another man shouted as the large group of people gathered near the Tivoli Gardens community centre.

However, when the Jamaica Observer contacted McKenzie he rubbished the protesters’ claims.

“What I said yesterday (Saturday) I still maintain, and this is what I have been saying for the last two years within the area. There is a handful of people bent on unleashing their power on the people of West Kingston.

Denham Town, mid-town, Tivoli, all sides are guilty.

“What I said is that the people cannot continue to live like prisoners in the communities and people are being held hostage.

The people are living in fear.”

He said he was not bothered by threats made by residents to switch their political allegiance.

“I am not worried about what a few people feel. My position is that every act of criminality committed in the constituency must be dealt with,” he said.

“I don’t care who commit it and where they come from, whether it is in Denham Town, mid-town, Tivoli, Fletcher’s Land or Matthews Lane — anywhere in the constituency.

“And I am not going to allow anybody to stop me from pursuing what I am pursuing; what I want is for the people of West Kingston to be able to live free, to be able to go about their lawful business.

“As the member of parliament I owe it to the people of the constituency to do what I can, in the legal way, to put an end to it.

I have been calling on the people for the last two years, come out and say what you know, but people are afraid to come out to express their position.

“My side is the side of law and order, and regardless of where they are from I will support any initiative by anyone in West Kingston to put an end to what is happening,” he added.

Police report that over the last two years seven children have been killed and 31 injured in the fighting.

On Saturday, McKenzie, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and other members of the police high command condemned Friday night’s shooting.

Commissioner Ellington advised the gangsters responsible for the bloodshed to turn themselves in and warned that if they didn’t, the police will not be gentle in their efforts to apprehend them.

   

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