Trelawny Northern MP plans to replicate Wakefield walk-through for peace in other communitiesThursday, August 12, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
WAKEFIELD, Trelawny — Following Independence Day's successful peace march in Wakefield, triggered by a recent spate of shooting deaths in that community, Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern Tova Hamilton is planning to undertake a similar activity in other communities across the constituency on a monthly basis.
Hamilton, members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, led by Superintendent Carlos Russell, commanding officer for the Trelawny Police Division; justices of the peace, led by Devon Brown, who is also vice-president of the Trelawny Association of Lay Magistrates; and an employee at the Social Development Commission; councillor for the Wakefield Division, Jonathan Bartley, among others, participated in the walk-through of Wakefield and a section of the nearby Friendship community.
“We want to do this once a month because we really had a very good afternoon and we have been exposed to quite a few of the residents and I think it created some sort of an impact. So we can replicate it in different communities now. We know of some other communities where we have some concerns so we can go and do the same. But thank you everybody and I like the team and we will keep the team,” she remarked.
Superintendent Russell, who also thanked the individuals who participated in the fruitful walk-through of the community, was also grateful for the outcome.
“I believe this [walk-through] was very beneficial and very successful and we would have interacted with a number of family members, a lot of persons would have shown their appreciation for our presence and this is something that the MP said to me she wants to do at least once every month and I have taken her up on her offer and try to do this in a different community each month,” said Superintendent Russell.
The senior cop, who noted that up to Independence Day, three of the eight murders in the parish since the start of the year were recorded in the Wakefield police area, attributed lottery scamming as “one of the things that is fuelling a lot of the things that is happening in Wakefield”.
“Lottery scamming does not spell good for no one. It is just a cycle of violence. And one of the things that we are seeing is that these youngsters, once they get involved in lottery scamming activities, the first thing they want is a gun, that is the first thing that they want and guns only bring problems at our doorstep,” Russell underscored. “So I am saying, look, you just need to speak to our brothers and our sisters to let them know that they need to consider their neighbours, consider their family because sometimes it is their families who are affected — the sisters, mothers and those who are injured in the process.”
Hamilton added that the residents should also be wary of strangers in the community.
“On top of what the superintendent said I have been noting that we have a lot of new faces coming into the community and we need to be very vigilant because we don't know where these people are coming from. And I think that will help to fuel some of the violence that we're seeing because they're coming for nefarious activities and we're not into that here. If you see something, say something,” advised the first-time Member of Parliament.
For his part, Bartley, who is a native of Wakefield and lives in the nearby community of Bounty Hall, also implored residents to look out for outsiders.
“You know I used to move around, stopping on the corner, but I am a little fearful now because sometimes there are some strange faces you see on the corner and you don't know if somebody is looking for them and then accidentally the time when you are there is just the time when the person come and you get caught up in crossfire. So sometimes, I'm a little bit nervous about stopping on the corners that I used to stop. I want to stop on the corner again. And after curfew I want to be here with you at the two o'clock and three o'clock in the mornings that I used to be with you socialising. I want to come back again,” Bartley stated.
He added that he had to scrap plans to stage a corner league football league in Wakefield after he was informed that “down so man naw go come because of this and that”.
“When I lived in Wakefield I never used to hear those things. We used to play with everybody, we cooked, we ate, we swam.
What we are hearing now is not nice. We want Wakefield to get back on the safe map. Trelawny was by far the safest parish anyone could come and live and stay in,” Bartley said.
A male member of the community told the Jamaica Observer West that the peace march “is a good look”.
“We are not really a bad community, you know, it's just some outside influence sometimes. But we are glad the MP and the police dem take it in hand and move quickly before it gets worse,” said the community member.
Hamilton conceptualised the walk-through of the community which has remained tense following last month's gunslaying of popular entertainer 65-year-old Glenford “Neco” Henry, and 30-year-old Christopher McKenzie, who went by the monikers 'Wire' and 'Chris'.
Five people have been charged in connection with Henry's death while the police are yet to make an arrest in the other recent killing.