RIVAL gangsters in Hannah Town and Denham Town, west Kingston, appear to be giving in to cries from residents for peace, following the murder of several people in both communities since the start of the year.
The Jamaica Observer understands that some of the men who have been at war and disturbing the lives of law-abiding citizens reached out to George Phang, community leader and music producer from the neighbouring Arnett Gardens, to help them establish a truce.
Last Saturday, Phang decided to intervene.
Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding, ordinary citizens, and warring factions joined with Phang to participate in a peace walk throughout Hannah Town. Phang said peace was the only way to go.
On Saturday residents who had long been complaining about the violence became excited about the idea of them experiencing peace, going forward.
"We are too small for things like this. This war could be avoided," one resident remarked while expressing confidence that peace will last.
One woman told the Observer that, "This is what we have been longing for. Peace is what we needed."
Phang told the Observer that the greatest element in this particular situation is that both sides acknowledged the destruction they have caused.
"The two side, a dem commit themselves to really make this thing stop. I really applaud them for understanding that it costs lives. Life is very important. Di two set a youth dem seh dem a guh done with it, so we have to applaud them," Phang said.
Phang cast his mind back to a time, over 20 years ago, when he helped to establish peace between Arnett Gardens and Tivoli Gardens. During that period criminal elements from both communities would shoot at their enemies on sight, which led to numerous murders and people being maimed.
Some of those shootings even occured at football matches between teams from both communities. The situation become so drastic that Phang organised a group of friends and went to Tivoli Gardens to broker peace with strongman, Christopher "Dudus" Coke.
"The night in question when we linked up, the man greeted me with love. He said he wanted the peace but it depended on who would be first to reach out to the next person. That peace has been happening until now. I know that it can happen right yah suh same way. Just be true to yourself and know that this is what we want and a dat we a guh do," Phang said.
President of the People's National Party (PNP) Mark Golding, who is Member of Parliament for St Andrew Southern, a constituency that neighbours west Kingston, said he has a strong connection with Hannah Town, which supports the PNP, and wanted the best for the all the residents.
"I feel I had to respond to the call. It is not actually in my constituency, but it is next door. I am very happy we reached this point today and I hope it will continue, and I believe everybody wants it to continue so there is a good chance of success.
"We want to build the love and unity right across Jamaica because everybody in Jamaica is fed up with the levels of hostility and anger that often manifests into violence, and we just need to come together as a country and try solve those issues so we can really move forward towards our greatness as a nation. I want to thank everybody who has helped to make this happen. Leggo the destruction, " Golding appealed.
Even the police were happy with the apparent peace that was forged.
Deputy Superintendent Woolcock, who is attached to the Kingston West division, reminded residents of both communities that they should be embracing each other rather than fighting.
"I would want to think that this is the start of something new and something fresh. For quite a while the small community of Hannah Town has been split. I would want to think this is the day that things will begin to come together and gel together. You are too close to be apart. The police is happy to be a part of any intervention strategy that is likely to bring peace and unity. I am really looking forward to greater days and better times," Woolcock said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Michael Phipps, who heads the Kingston West division, told the Observer recently that there was an intra-gang within the Hannah Town-based Upsetta gang. That conflict had caused some of its members to forge partnerships with other gangs in Denham Town.
"We are doing increased patrols and operations where we target violence producers. We will be doing some covert activities and we will be working closely with the community. We have a list of persons of interest," Phipps said then.