As a child, probably around five years old, I attended my first funeral. It was for a murdered couple whose surname was Belafonte. It was the first time I saw two coffins in Mandeville Parish Church. I have not done any research to ascertain if the killer or killers were ever brought to justice.
Since then my memory has been assaulted with a plethora of homicides that have nothing to do with Hollywood movies.
On January 5, 1978 we had an alleged State-sanctioned killing of five people at the Green Bay Firing Range by members of the Jamaica Defence Force. This became known as the Green Bay Massacre.
Then we entered the bloody year of 1980.
It was a politically charged year that ended with some 800 fatalities due to political violence from nine months of political campaigning for general parliamentary elections held on October 30, 1980.
Among the murder victims of that year were five people who were shot to death on April 20 at a dance in a tenement yard located in central Kingston due to rival political gangs. The incident is best known as the Gold Street Massacre.
One of the consequences of the 1980 election year was the unleashing of politically aligned gangs. The Southside gang fought on behalf of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and clashed with the Tel Aviv gang aligned with People’s National Party (PNP) at Gold Street. Now, politically aligned gangs have evolved into an uncontrollable octopus choking the nation.
The icing on the political warfare, so to speak, occurred when the Deputy National Security Minister Roy McGann was shot and killed in a clash between rival political factions. It is not known if he was killed by an opponent or accidentally shot by police trying to halt a fight between political opponents.
It was reported that, “Nearly a third of the more than 40,000 homicides committed in Jamaica since 1970 have gone cold, and files are languishing on the shelves of some police department with only the pathologist report on the cause of death.” (The Gleaner, February 3, 2014)
“Police statistics have revealed that less than half of the over 1,600 serious crimes reported [for 2014], including murders and shooting, remain unsolved.” (The Gleaner, July 11, 2014)
Since then, the nation has continued to descend into depravity and callousness, whereby the majority of its citizens are left in perpetual numbness to news of murders.
An interfaith memorial service for the over 40,000 murder victims, including prayers from the jewish, Isamic, and Hindu communities, was held at St Andrew Parish Church on April 19, 2015 to draw attention to our acts of inhumanity towards each other.
In 2022, neither our behaviour nor attitudes have changed despite the fact that hundreds of unidentified killers live among us. Instead, we are caught in the vicious cycle of reprisals, including the herd call for the return of the hangman, which mirrors the killer who seeks justice only for self.
Dudley C McLean