A week of 'no shots being fired' in Mountain View

A week of 'no shots being fired' in Mountain View

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 10, 2020

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AFTER dominating the headlines since October with reports of gunfire, deaths and police warning citizens from outside the area to steer clear, communities in Mountain View, St Andrew, have lived through almost one week with “no shots being fired”.

“No shots have been fired at all. Not even one since Sunday, so that is definitely good,” Jamaica Labour Party caretaker for the Vineyard Town Division Stephen McCubbin told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

McCubbin was responsible for organising a 'peaceful protest' at the Jacques Road Community Centre on Sunday, in an attempt to defuse unrest in the area, which has seen 10 people shot dead since October last year in an ongoing feud involving individuals from Jacques Road and Goodwich Lane, reportedly over missing plyboard from a construction site.

He said a tenuous peace accord of sorts has been struck, and efforts are ongoing to bring stability to the communities in question.

“In terms of where we are with the dialogue, it has been ongoing. We have been moving around the communities and having conversations on the ground, just about the way forward for peace. We have got some soft commitments, in terms of just allowing the free flow of members of the community along Mountain View, and that is just from residents who have people feeling intimidated, people who sit down and watch, and so forth,” he explained.

According to McCubbin, “There has been some improvement in that regard.”

“Obviously fears still exist, it's still very fresh, it's still very new, but we continue to work on it and in short order we have some things that we will communicate, because we definitely have been working on it. The mayor of Kingston and St Andrew has given some commitments to assisting in whatever way possible, in making sure that he plays a role in the stability [with] Mountain View being a major thoroughfare throughout the city of Kingston. I am grateful because the response has been a good one,” McCubbin said further.

In the meantime, he said the police have been faithful in keeping a promise made on Sunday to increase its presence in the area, especially with the reopening of schools this week, and have gone as far as shuttling students to and from schools. On Sunday, parents had expressed reluctance to send their charges to school given the random shootings.

“There has been increased presence, especially along the major thoroughfare, which is Mountain View [Avenue] itself. The police have actually, based on reports from residents, been shuttling some of the children to school and from, so that has gone a far way in easing some of the fears of the parents; so we definitely commend the police for standing by their word and offering us that assistance,” McCubbin told the Observer.

He said several students at the early childhood and secondary levels have benefited from the goodwill of the police.

“It's a mix of students. I was on Goodwich [Lane] yesterday and I was speaking with some of the residents there, and some of the parents were telling me that there's a group of students that go to Curlin Johnson Basic School but because of its proximity to Jacques Road they had some fears with walking down to bring their kids to school, and the police volunteered their assistance,” McCubbin outlined.

“They came and they picked them up. They brought them to school and after school they came and got them and took them back home, and this is something they have been doing all week, and the same for students of Excelsior as well.

“It is looking promising. I know we have to give it time before full confidence takes over and parents feel like they can walk freely, but we have definitely identified some immediate improvements that we want to sustain as best as we possibly can,” he added.

Asked about plans for a school bus for the area, he said this was not being considered at this time but is not being ruled out as a temporary measure.

“What we are hoping is that we can restore normalcy, but in the meantime, it would be a good idea if, for example, stakeholders like the Jamaica Urban Transit Company or JUTA could assist us, because it's not really a great distance — it's just picking up kids from the various communities until some amount of confidence is restored. That would definitely be a good idea,” he noted.

On the matter of the individuals who have had to quit their jobs because of threats issued against people who commute to work on a daily basis, McCubbin said their forced unemployment status was “definitely a concern”.

“Their inability to earn a living is what perpetuates the cycle of poverty in a lot of these communities. At this time it is something we do have under consideration, we are looking at it to see how best we can approach it, so that is something we definitely continue to speak with the security forces because we still have to be careful how we are transporting people throughout the thoroughfare. It is something we hope dialogue with the security forces will bear some fruit,” he told the Observer.

Efforts by the newspaper to reach the head of the Kingston Eastern Police Division, Superintendent Victor Hamilton, for further comments yesterday, were unsuccessful.


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