Mark Wignall | Denham Town is spoilt
The prime minister has spoken and so have selected members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Something is operating in Denham Town that is designed to ensure that the Zone of Special Operations, known as ZOSOs, must not work. According to the PM...
The prime minister has spoken and so have selected members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Something is operating in Denham Town that is designed to ensure that the Zone of Special Operations, known as ZOSOs, must not work.
According to the PM, there are people or forces there that are operating in or around Denham Town that are there to ensure that the ZOSO fails.
Now I would not want to say in this column that I have information that the PM is speaking rubbish. I would not want to declare that he has opted for faulty information and has decided to spread it nationally. No, I am not into that.
But I have observed Denham Town and its residents for many years, and it is my conclusion that many people living there are convinced that they have the right to dictate to the security forces. They believe that Denham Town people should have a big right to bully the police into where to walk, which avenue to crawl on, and which set of gunmen they should fire at.
Many people in Denham Town had long turned over ownership of their security to Tivoli Gardens. In the days before the big boss, the ‘President’, was seized by US authorities on drugs and gun running, the street forces in the local politics in West Kingston, which encompasses Denham Town, was of the view that when the police gathered en masse to raid a place like Tivoli Gardens, gunmen had a right to launch armed attacks on the police (the Jamaica Constabulary Force).
Let it not be lost on us that Tivoli Gardens in its heyday was a den of iniquity where courts were held and men were ‘sentenced’ by breaking their legs, their arms, and others were cut to pieces by chain saws. Those pieces were placed in 35-lb plastic drums and ‘given’ to fishermen to dump at sea.
Whatever were the results of these ‘court cases’, it satisfied the residents. But the influence of Tivoli Gardens extended outside of the immediate area. One small businessman who operated downtown told me of a ‘court case’ involving him. He and another businessman had a dispute, and they took it to Tivoli like they were approaching the Supreme Court.
We were gathered in a small room in Tivoli Gardens. I was given a man said to be an attorney, and the same was extended to the other businessman. At one stage one of the ‘attorneys’ slapped a man he was questioning while saying, “Boy, mi know sey yu a lie.”
In the end, the matter was settled, and he paid $50,000 for ‘court fees’. The man never messed with him for the next 20 years.
DENHAM TOWN AND STONES
In days leading up to the early 2000s, just before a ‘war’ broke out between the police and violent gunmen in Tivoli Gardens, the police at Denham Town Police Station and the people in the surrounding areas had a dispute.
At a high point of the dispute, men, women and children from Denham Town attacked the Denham Town Police Station by using stones as missiles. That late evening when the late Tino Geddes and I visited the area, I was utterly amazed as I witnessed young policeman doing their work while huge ‘boulders’ were either on their desks or beside them. In the bathrooms, the windows were smashed, and big rocks were in the sinks and toilets.
In 2005, when a cowardly Bruce Golding was named leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), he appeared on Cliff Hughes’ radio programme and spoke nonsense about the JLP promising ‘bangarang’ if the governing PNP did not deliver what he wanted. As a guest on Hughes’ programme, I harshly criticised Golding.
The spoiled residents of Denham Town gathered near to the police station in Denham Town in their foolish effort to lock down criticism of their new leader. I stupidly visited the site and was physically assaulted by those in Denham Town who were attached to the street elements and criminality. When I complained, foolishly to Bruce Golding right on the steps of the Denham Town Police Station, he acted as if I did not exist. Stupid me, not knowing that the new leader of the JLP was even weaker than Seaga had declared him to be.
NASTY POLITICS AND INNER-CITY POCKETS
Places like Denham Town are tailor-made for dirty politics. For many years, Tivoli Gardens, and its absolute boss, Eddie Seaga, gave Denham Town the impression that it could thumb its nose at the security forces. In fact, in many of the talks that Seaga would give to various media houses whenever ‘war’ broke out in Tivoli/Denham Town, he would always make it seem that those areas were like an Israel surrounded by hostile Palestinian forces.
Don’t get me wrong. While Seaga expressed his thoughts publicly and in many ways earned the ‘respect’ from some others in the political war room, but would be silent while supplying their communities with arms and ammunition.
We ought to remember that when Jim Brown, the absolute don of West Kingston, was murdered in his prison cell while awaiting forced passage (extradition) to the US, Seaga stated at his funeral that Brown was a loyal ‘protector’ of west Kingston.
Most other politicians were overjoyed that Seaga ran off his mouth because that was the same politics they were practising in their constituencies.
But over many years, Denham Town has stood out because many of the criminal elements operating there believe that the town is theirs to run rampage after rampage. Dudus is no longer there to bring order to the madness and the murders.
The security forces must understand that a whole new generation of residents have grown up with intense hate for them. We are seeing that played out now in real time.
Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs analyst. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.