After fiery protests which appeared to have no end in sight, Kingston Western Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie managed to bring calm to sections of his constituency on Tuesday, three days after 32-year-old Horaine Glenn was killed by a member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), allegedly in cold blood.
Immediately following the incident, protesting residents blocked Charles, Regent and other streets in Kingston Western with debris which they set on fire and vowed not to ease up until justice was served. Even before McKenzie visited the area early Tuesday afternoon, scores of residents bearing placards with messages denouncing the action of the soldier, brought their protest to the Cannonball gate at the JDF’s Up Park Camp headquarters in St Andrew.
McKenzie, who was visiting the family of the slain man and residents for the first time since the incident, assured them that their concerns about the killing were legitimate and encouraged them not to set any more fires, but to make themselves available to visit the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) today, to give official written statements on what they saw.
During his address to the residents, McKenzie said he would send transportation to take witnesses to INDECOM’s offices in New Kingston. He also encouraged them to allow the security forces to traverse the community without interference or obstruction.
“You have already expressed yourselves. We are going to use the legal channel to deal with the situation. I don’t want any more blocking of roads. We leave that behind us now. The security forces must be able to pass and go about their business without interference. I don’t want anybody to find any excuse to derail the investigations. Based on eyewitnesses and what has been circulating, you have a legitimate case for your family to seek justice,” McKenzie said.
“You cannot fight fire with fire. We have been having a very good relationship with the security forces. There have been some excesses and we are prepared to deal with it in an orderly fashion,” he added.
Commissioner of INDECOM Hugh Faulkner, who visited the troubled area with McKenzie on Tuesday, sought to assure residents that the matter will be investigated with vigour.
Faulkner said INDECOM has since collected eight rifles from JDF personnel who were on foot patrol Saturday evening and that these firearms will undergo forensic and ballistic testing.
While the Jamaica Observer and other media interviewed Faulkner, two spent casings, said to have been collected at the scene, were handed to INDECOM by McKenzie, who said residents felt more comfortable handing them over directly to INDECOM.
“We captured a sample of blood, we found some spent casings. We now have to go through the proper channels. We need written statements and not verbal accounts to be submitted to us. From those interviews, we will proceed to question and answer and then when the matter is processed, we will submit the file to the director of public prosecutions,” Faulkner said.
“I guarantee you that our investigations will be thorough and detailed. Some people will say it takes long, but it haffi tek long to do it right. The firearms that we seize, we have to submit them to the lab as well as the blood samples and spent shells. Just be patient. Sometimes justice walks slowly, but it is right. Any digital material that you have can strengthen the case,” he said.
“We have been encouraging the witnesses to come in to us at 1 Dumfries Road, where we have world-class facilities. We appreciate the verbal account from you saying what you heard and what you saw, but come and let us have what you witnessed into writing. No one has come forward yet,” Faulkner said.
An outspoken resident, who gave her name only as Debbie, said now that they have vowed to end the roadblocks they will be watching keenly to see how the matter is treated by the authorities.
“Wi do enough already. Our hearts went out from Saturday night for Horaine. Mr McKenzie come and we sweep up di place and we seh we nah go light no more fire. We a go see weh di bigger heads at Up Park Camp going to do with this soldier and we a go see wah INDECOM a go do. Di man never back no gun pon di soldier and if him even tell him bad word, tell him back bad words, then. Instead, you give him five shot! Mi love soldier and police because dem help keep down the crime, but weh dat soldier do, a wickedness.”
A male resident said Saturday’s incident should serve as a message to the security forces.