More protest for slain inmate Mario Deane
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Placard-bearing residents on Tuesday staged a massive demonstration at Barnett Street Police Station over the controversial death of 31-year-old Mario Deane, who was beaten while in police custody.
The protest was led by Citizens' Action for Principle and Integrity (CAPI) whose co-convener, Dennis Meadows, said Deane's death is a result of a systematic problem which "transcends marijuana".
"Kamoza Clarke in Falmouth, Agana Barrett in Constant Spring and others died in custody. They were not charged with possession of ganja. So what we have here is a systemic problem. If successive governments continue to give tacit support, by their inaction and silence to State abuse, they have failed to hold those under their charge accountable," Meadows charged.
"Too often we see that poor Jamaicans are being subjected to police brutality, and what you get? Minister [Peter] Bunting, Minister [Mark] Golding, what they came with last week were platitudes. We are yet to hear any unequivocal voice of condemnation and intolerance for what caused Mario's death," Meadows argued.
Deane was arrested for possession of a small amount of ganja and was taken to the police station to be processed. The police alleged he was being offered station bail for the offence but failed to give them the required information, forcing them to keep him in custody.
But a friend who went to bail him said the process was almost finished when Deane expressed dislike for a policewoman, who retaliated by keeping him in custody. The friend said he was told to return at 5:00 pm as she would be keeping him a little longer. However, the man said he grew suspicious and returned to the station at 3:00 pm only to be informed that Deane, who had been in perfect health only hours earlier, was taken to hospital by the police.
Deane slipped into a coma and never recovered. He died on Independence Day.
Tuesday, Meadows also demanded the removal of the cop who it is alleged refused Deane's bail on the fateful Sunday when he was beaten, resulting in his death.
"We also believe that the woman corporal, who arrogated onto herself, contrary to the Bail Act, to terminate and suspend Mario's bail and place him in a cell at her pleasure, facilitated the death of Mario. So whether police kill him, whether inmates kill him, her actions caused his death and we believe that at the minimum she ought to be held responsible. And in the first instance she should be
taken off duty. She should be suspended until investigations are through," Meadows said.
Donovan Cunningham, a Montegonian who said he did not know Deane, but who joined the protest after hearing of the controversial circumstances of his death, sided with Meadows.
"The fact that you say you don't like somebody, it should not be a reason for you to lose your life. It is not a prerequisite for existence, to like you. I don't have to like you, you don't have to like me, but that does not give me the right to abuse you. And that
is why we are here today.
His rights were trampled upon," Cunningham told the Jamaica Observer.
"The police are here to serve, protect and reassure, and the only thing that Mario Deane was served was a beating, and the police protected themselves and they reassured that the public was misled," he argued.
Another protester, who identified himself as Dudley Stokes and who claimed that Deane was arrested at his gate, described him as a law-abiding citizen.
"Ah fi mi gate dem take him from. Mario was not a youth who gave trouble; is the first him a go a jail. Is the first police a touch him because of a spliff tail. And tell me something now, the man right was taken from him. We nuh have nuh rights," Stokes said.
Tuesday's protest caused a diversion of traffic along Barnett Street.