Organised crime and social media
Jason McKay

Belgian-born Rwandan journalist Georges Ruggiu was convicted and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for his part in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which led to the deaths of 800,000 Rwandan citizens.

His part in the infamous incident was not as one of the machete-wielding lunatics, but rather as a radio host who encouraged the predominantly Hutu population to slaughter the Tutsi minority, referring to them as cockroaches.

His 12 years should have been 12 life sentences, in my opinion, but judges have their job to do and they know best.

In the 1970s, law enforcement professionals who were effective in their efforts to combat the thugs in their police area were quickly branded as 'politically controlled' by one of the two political parties that were on the receiving end of the officers' efforts.

This practice extended into the 90s, ending only when Jamaicans stopped caring about political parties of any colour.

The slander usually resulted in the transfer of the officer, or stagnation if the offended party was, or became the ruling party.

In more recent years the control strategy has altered to using social media video bloggers to attempt to control the police officers' efforts.

The YouTube broadcast apparatus and the WhatsApp distribution platform allow for sometimes anonymous thugs to circulate commentary against police officers that are a threat to the gangs' membership and their community control.

They paint the officers as being affiliated to a rival gang, as a mechanism to get the officer to reduce his efforts against them.

There is a particular blogger who is not anonymous, but operates out of England to avoid being served and sued for libel.

He is literally a voice for hire and is currently on the payroll of gangs from Naggo Head.

Others that operate anonymously and disguise their voice with technology are literally also propaganda for hire and will go with whatever message the gang pays for.

This activity creates the opportunity for two discussions.

Firstly, what are the criminal implications to the offenders who participate in this activity, and secondly, how should the officer respond?

Well, although the civil implications are obvious as it relates to slander, it is not so clear cut as it relates to a criminal offence, or is it?

The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act of 2014, commonly known as the anti-gang legislation, is very wide in its application.

The essence of this Act, simply put, is that once you come together as a group with an aim to commit a crime, then you can be charged under the Act.

The blogger is playing a part to dissuade law enforcement from pursuing the gang. At best, he is a paid mouthpiece of the gang; at worst he could be viewed as a member.

Just as the new Firearm Act provides for the prosecution of gang members in the diaspora exporting guns from overseas, the anti-gang Act should be used as a mechanism to prosecute the bloggers who are playing their part to assist the gangs to combat and control law enforcement.

Secondly, how should the attacked officer respond?

Well, speaking from the perspective as a law enforcement officer who has come under this type of attack, I recommend you take it as an indication that you are doing one 'helluva' job. If not, you would not be targeted. Then double your efforts, because they are working. Always remember, this is not real media. This is an unregulated thug who is no different from the common dunce coward that you chase everyday with a gun in his hand. He just has a different function.

Also, remember that attempts to control the police by propaganda and misinformation are nothing new. They are cowards.

The same way they rarely fight us and stand as men, but choose to attack us from behind women and children, it is expected that they will use altered voices and anonymity when they come at us.

They are too afraid to do it otherwise.

I spoke of the political gangs and their efforts of using political affiliation as a tool earlier in this article. Well, after that era ended the criminals used human rights groups.

I recall a gunman from Little Lane (Central Village) almost 20 years ago, now deceased, who was implicated in multiple homicides and arrested several times before his enemies killed him.

Every time he was detained by the police he always said 'I going to report you to Jamaicans For Justice', a popular uptown organisation of that era.

I was younger and less wiser at the time and would often wonder 'who cares'.

However, I noticed it worked on some of my colleagues, who felt this could impact their possibilities of being promoted.

I guess that's the beauty of the district constable as our ascension is, in essence, two movements within the same rank and thus less vulnerable to civilian influence decided on over a cup of coffee.

The threats worked in many cases in aiding the gangs, but temporarily.

Justice has a strange way of working itself out.

Organised crime is wide and as the name suggests it's organised. It's not just the two 'draws', 'one marina' skinny thug with a pretty gun.

The guns and the funding involve foreign-based gangsters. The money needs assistance from local businesses to launder.

The assets can only be in the names of people who can justify ownership.

Let us not ignore the mechanisms used to control law enforcement efforts by the tool called propaganda.

The part these mouthpieces play is important and they must be viewed for who they are, just more common gang members playing their part.

Jason McKay

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