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Letter of the Day | Caught in vicious cycle of reprisals

Published:Tuesday | July 5, 2022 | 12:05 AM


As a child, probably around five years old, I attended my first funeral. It was for a murdered couple whose surname was Belafonte. It was the first time I saw two coffins in the Mandeville Parish Church. I have not done any research to ascertain if the killer or killers were ever brought to justice.

Since then, my memory has been assaulted with a plethora of homicides that have nothing to do with Hollywood movies.

On January 5, 1978, we had an alleged state-sanctioned killing of five persons at the Green Bay Firing Range by members of the Jamaica Defence Force. This is known as the Green Bay Massacre.

Then we entered the bloody year of 1980.

It was a politically charged year that ended with some 800 fatalities, due to political violence from nine months of political campaigning for general parliamentary elections held in October 1980.

Among the victims of that year were five persons who were shot to death on April 20 at a dance in a tenement yard located in central Kingston, due to rival political gangs, and is best known as the Gold Street Massacre.

One of the consequences of the election year was the unleashing of politically aligned gangs. The Southside gang fought on behalf of the Jamaica Labour Party and clashed with the Tel Aviv gang, aligned with the People’s National Party, at Gold Street. Now, political aligned gangs have evolved into an uncontrollable octopus choking the nation.

The icing on political warfare, so to speak, occurred when the then assistant national security minister, Roy McGann, was shot in a clash between rival political factions. It is not known if he was killed by an opponent or accidentally shot by police trying to halt a fight between political opponents.

Over the years the news tell the same stories.

“Nearly a third of the more than 40,000 homicides committed in Jamaica since 1970 have gone cold, and files are languishing on the shelves of some police departments with only the pathologist report on the cause of death.” ( The Gleaner, February 3, 2014)

“Police statistics have revealed that less than half of the over 1,600 serious crimes reported [for 2014], including murders and shooting, remain unsolved.” ( The Gleaner, July 11, 2014)

We have continued in a spiral descent of depravity and callousness where a majority of people are left in perpetual numbness to news of murders.

An interfaith memorial service for the over 40,000 victims, including prayers from Jewish, Muslim and Hindu communities, was held at the St Andrew Parish Church on April 19, 2015, to draw attention to our acts of inhumanity towards each other.

In 2022, neither our behaviour nor attitudes have changed, as hundreds of unidentified killers live among us, and we have been caught in the ‘vicious cycle’ of reprisals, including the ‘herd call’ for the return of the hangman.


Mandeville, Manchester