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Take back Linstead

Entertainers appeal for peace in violence-plagued community

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, August 23, 2014    

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THE upsurge in criminal activities in the Linstead community of St Catherine has spurred two home-grown entertainers to appeal to residents not to accommodate gunmen and cooperate with the police in their investigations.

Dancehall acts Jigsy King and Tony Curtis say criminals are destroying the tranquility of the rural St Catherine community immortalised in the popular folk song Linstead Market.

"It is no myth that our entertainers are often considered to be role models and the voice of the people. I am begging my fellow Linstead artistes that we meet with the residents and see how best we can bring back the unity. Even a peace concert would be appreciated," Jigsy King told the Jamaica Observer.

Linstead is also known for producing top artistes such as roots giant Joseph 'Culture' Hill, rocksteady singer Phyllis Dillon, Festival Song Contest winner Freddie McKay, Nana McLean, and Iba Mahr.

Among the most recent string of violence is the brutal killing of Mickleton Meadows community residents Shana-Kay Simpson, Garfield Simpson, Recodel Jackson and Dean Pratt on Wednesday night.

"This is disgusting. Starting from Flat Bridge, we need to take back our town as this was not the way it was. Back in the days, I used to walk to dances, now I can't even think about doing that. Everyone in Linstead is connected whether via high or all-age school. We are no longer a family and Linstead is too much of a small place for this much violence," said Jigsy King.

Although currently not residing in the area, Jigsy King said he often makes frequent trips to visit

his friends and family.

"We don't grow up any animals and mi not supporting any 'dutty gunman'. Mickleton Meadows and Charlemont Scheme were like the 'uptown' of Linstead, but now everywhere is affected," he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Linstead native reggae singer Tony Curtis. The singer said approximately 18 months ago he decided to relocate to the community with the hopes of transforming the youths.

"Just recently, I was playing football on East Avenue and one of the players gave another a bad tackle. When mi look, the man who got tackled said he was going for his gun to shoot up everybody. All of that make me long for the days when me and di man dem could just enjoy a ball game in peace," Curtis stated.

Both Curtis and Jigsy King performed as a duo and churned out hits including Butterfly and Miss Goody Goody. Curtis, a solo artiste, is also part of quartet LUST.

He refuses to blame politics as an excuse for the gunmen's actions.

"The man dem don't hungry, because is not like they are robbing and leaving the individuals to live... Is like the man dem just heartless," he vented.

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