Granville residents march for an end to murdersThursday, July 29, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
MONTEGO BAY, St James - The Granville Peace Justice and Resource Development Foundation (GPJRDF) has renewed their call for unity among residents in the volatile St James community, against the background of the recent spike in murders.
Speaking to the Jamaica Observer West during the community-based organisation's prayer walk last Saturday, executive director O Dave Allen expressed anger and disappointment at the high murder rate on behalf of the residents.
He stated that they are infuriated by the senseless killings that have left families mourning the loss of loved ones, especially those of the two women and child who were killed less than two weeks ago.
“We are outraged by the fact that one pregnant woman was killed, and another woman [along with] her four-year-old child were brutally murdered. All [of] this took place within two weeks; we expect some sense of outrage by civil society. And we as a people seem to be inured by the whole idea of murder,” said Allen.
Allen shared that the prayer walk, which was expected to have members of the group visit different sections of the community, did not go as planned due to inclement weather but that did not deter them from expressing their concerns on the crime plaguing their community.
“Because of inclement weather, the exercise was somewhat cut short, but we were able to carry out part of the programme to sensitise the community, [and] express our concern about the level of crime and violence in our community,” he told Observer West.
“What we wanted to do was to have the march throughout, particularly to those areas where people were murdered. We stopped at one area where two Saturdays ago, Ian was shot and killed in broad daylight. We want to embolden the community so that they can respond to crime and violence because in situations like this, many of us are going to go under a bed and hide, so we want to get people out so that we can address the issues facing the community,” said Allen.
He also stated the organisation was expecting other community-based organisations to join hands in their call for peace and unity on Saturday, but this was not so.
“We were expecting the various women's movement and organisation who have expressed concern about crime against women to be out here, but I suspect because we are on this side of town, the concern is not generalised. But we as a community-based organisation believe in a community driven process, we believe that the community is the first line of defence, and we need to strengthen our capacity to deal with these issues,” he shared.
Though disappointed, Allen shared that they are hoping to join hands with these organisations in the future for other engagements to “tackle crime from the root”.
“We hope that this exercise will be the beginning of an engagement of the churches, and other community-based organisations, including the CDC, to address the issue. We also want to partner with the Restorative Justice Project, so that we can see how we can mend broken relationships, because the root of many of these shooting is rooted in conflicts between friends, and even relatives, so we need intervention at that level,” Allen told the Observer West.
Member of the Granville Peace Justice and Resource Development Foundation (GPJRDF), Barnell Walters, also weighed in on the concerns shared by Allen.
She expressed that these killings continue to create a stigma for the community and its members.
“What we really need in the community is unity. So, we need to try and talk [about] our problems instead of killing one another. This poses a problem for persons who have their business to go about; it creates a stigma for the community because we are coming from Granville, you cannot get employment. People are afraid to come to Granville,” said Walters.
“Killing [is not] the solution because as they say, the offender today will be the victim tomorrow. We need to [get rid] of that mentality because we kill but what is the end product? The only people who benefited when we kill off one another is the funeral home,” Walters told Observer West.