Mark Wignall | Monsters of the garrison
"For too many years past, barbaric criminal acts have been perpetrated by brutish citizen against despairing citizen. The offenders are mainly rampaging, shiftless young black males, poorly educated, at best semi-literate, steeped in unreason and depravity; unemployed, or 'unemployable', having no vocation and abandoning hope. They are indiscriminating in their choice of victims, not sparing the very young, the very old, pregnant women or the disabled: right across the economic, social and age spectra." Excerpt from the Epilogue, the Public Defender's interim report on Tivoli.
As a skilled practitioner of the law, Earl Witter, QC, would have seen many sides of the coin in his many court appearances and as a man who knew the gritty streets and the living room discussions in the opulence of Kingston 6. When he placed the words above in his report he was drawing on the realities of his vast experience in navigating the minds and the actions of many of our young, barely redeemable desperadoes.
The shooting death of the Meadowbrook student at her home in Arnett Gardens while she slept is another collective jerk to the conscience of this nation. Whatever may have been the motivating factors, be it her refusal to give in to sexual demands or some other matter that we do not yet know about, she is dead and no amount of words and reasonings can reverse the painful reality that her loved ones must now bear.
THE ISSUE OF RAPES
Prior to 2001, Andrew 'Andrew Phang' Stephens was the don of a garrison pocket in Grants Pen. In the perverse ways of the garrison, he was the community protector. Where the police could only respond after crimes in the area were committed, his brand of community protection included guarantees that rapes were hardly ever committed.
In 2001, 'Phang' was cut down by the CMU led by Reneto Adams. Immediately after news of his death hit the residents, one of my female contacts in the area telephoned me. "A now di rape dem a go start back. Dem bwoy gwine have a free-for-all."
Unfortunately, she was right. In one particularly brutal incident, a 19-year-old, irredeemable criminal, who lived on ingesting cocaine and white rum and firing his M-16 wildly in the air in his high, snatched a 15-year-old girl and took her to a section of the gully by Fagan Avenue.
He and his gang members raped and sodomised the girl, stabbed her in her genitalia, threw her body in the gully and then shot it up. One girl who was also snatched but managed to escape said to me, "Wi inna wi yaad an' a hear har a bawl out. Wi call di police, but dem neva come until hours later. By dat time shi dead long time."
WOMEN WHO SUFFER
It is unfortunately one of the horrors of war, only sometimes reported, that women suffer most in the wake of the victory of one side. At any time in this country, in a poverty-stricken garrison pocket, there is a war on. When young men gain power after they have attained many notches of death on their guns, the beast in them begin to make demands on the young women in the area, especially those who are trying to educate themselves out of the zinc-fence ghetto living.
Where active donmanship obtains, the residents strike a Faustian bargain with the don. He will protect your daughters from the many potential rapists lurking, but, if he demands your daughter, it must be considered a 'small' sacrifice for the greater benefit of the ghetto.
When the politicians first drew up the template of the garrison, they saw it as socially and politically helpful to embrace the don who rose to power through an exercise of well-publicised brutality. Some politicians openly sat and drank with these monsters, while most preferred to meet with them behind closed doors while pretending sanctity.
In their exercise of power, many mothers willingly handed over their daughters to the animals. Where demands had to be made, some of the lucky ones were those who had relatives living outside the garrison. They chose relocation for the sake of protecting the innocence of their promising daughters.
Innocence was trampled on in Arnett Gardens. The monsters must be captured now!