'Enough is enough!' Jamaicans join BLM protestSunday, June 07, 2020
BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
“THE police are killing our children and our brothers are killing each other. Enough is enough!” was the cry of a 70-year-old Rastafarian woman who protested outside the United States Embassy in Liguanea, St Andrew, yesterday morning.
The woman's plea for change attracted the attention of protesters who gathered in solidarity with the most recent 'Black Lives Matter' demonstrations across America and other parts of the world following the murder of George Floyd.
Floyd's death at the knee of a white police officer in Minnesota sparked a wave protests worldwide against racial injustice.
Sister Monica told the Jamaica Observer that as a Rastafarian woman, she has been fighting the oppression of black people in Jamaica since she was a teenager when she adopted the faith.
“I am a Rasta woman from 1976 until now, praising His Imperial Majesty who taught us to love each other. That is why I am out here,” she said.
The woman, who is a craft vendor by trade, lamented the wanton killing of Jamaicans by members of the police force and argued fervently for social and racial justice.
“We have to fight for our rights and our children them rights. Look what them make happen to the man who dead a prison after him in there for over 40 years with no trial,” she said in reference to the shocking news last week of Noel Chambers, an inmate of at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, whose withered remains were seen by Jamaicans after he died in prison without trial.
“We as black people have to fight for our rights,” she added. “I don't give up my rights. I prefer die for my rights.”
Sister Monica stood among a crowd of approximately 100 people brandishing placards and attracting the attention of motorists, some of whom waved to show their support.
The protest was one of at least two others happening in pockets across the Corporate Area yesterday. In Half-Way-Tree, individual protesters were seen holding placards in the vicinity of the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre.
People were also gathered at Emancipation Park later in the afternoon where they were joined by protesters who had gathered outside the US Embassy.
Alice Hogarth, organiser of what has been dubbed the Justice for All movement, told the Sunday Observer that the protest was against social inequalities in Jamaica and that it would be ongoing until a commitment to “radical change” is realised.
“This is an ongoing movement looking at the injustices and inequalities here in Jamaica. We will be looking closely at the leadership and holding them accountable.
“We have a classism [issue] and [it is] the poor who are suffering. This is a new movement that has started and it will not end with Floyd. It will be ongoing. This is going to be a movement to hold leadership accountable.
“If things don't start to change we will be having protests against the injustices right here in Jamaica – whether it is police brutality or poor education – [so] that we can have radical change,” said Hogarth.
Rohan Murray, 48, a protester who was chanting “Wi haffi clean up a yaad before wi look abroad”, argued that the murder of George Floyd is not unlike the killing of young men in Jamaica at the hands of the police.
“Right now mi cup full,” Murray said frankly.
“The George Floyd murder just bring up everything. We cyah tek it nuh more.
“This is a worldwide problem, not just in America. We have whole heap a police brutality here too; a lot of classism and criminality. The same thing that is happening in the States to black people, is the same thing happening right here.
“It might not make a difference right now but at least it will show them that we are not in agreement with what is going on,” Murray said.
Calvert Smith, an elderly man of 68 years, said he has been joining protests against racism and for black empowerment since the 1970s.
“Mi guh through whole heap a struggle with police and gunman from mi born and grow inna central Kingston, and up to this day at this age mi still a struggle.
“But that black man who dem kill in America is the reason why mi really haffi out here. Mi have family in America so mi haffi tek up this struggle too,” Smith said.
Carl Works, 71, another protester who spoke with the Sunday Observer, argued that policing in Jamaica is more violent than in the United States.
“We are out here to stand up for our rights,” said Works, who is a union organiser with UCASE (Union of Clerical Administrative and Supervisory Employees).
“I represent hundreds of workers, so it is only natural that I'm out here protesting social injustice against the people.“
Chike Aswad, a self-described poet, said his activism is a means securing a better world for future generations.
“This is not about my life; it is about my children and grandchildren who are coming up after me. What we need is unity and concern and awareness worldwide,” said Aswad.