Thursday, February 15, is a day Marsha Clarke Ewan and Garfield Ewan of Glendevon, Montego Bay, will forever remember as one of the darkest days of their lives. It is the day that Garfield was detained by the police in Montego Bay under the State of Public Emergency, shattering their plans for celebrating a happy first wedding anniversary on February 16.
Marsha, an executive assistant at Housing Agency of Jamaica, and Garfield, a construction worker and baker, got married in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, last year, following which she returned home. Garfield flew to Jamaica on Sunday, February 11, with the main intention to celebrate his first wedding anniversary with his wife on Friday, February 16. They had plans for a day at Hard Rock Café, which would have been followed by a romantic dinner at Rick’s Cafe.
However, this proved not to be, as Marsha related that the unfortunate series of events began to unfold minutes after 5a.m. on Thursday, February 15, when she and her husband were in bed at the matrimonial home at Lime Tree Lane, Glendevon, Montego Bay.
There was a persistent knock on the door at minutes after 5 a.m. When she inquired who it was, she was told that it was the police, and that they were on a joint police/military operation.
“So I opened the door and they entered. The soldiers searched the premises and asked my husband for his identification and his passport. He complied and we also showed them our marriage certificate. They found nothing, but said they were going to take him to the police station to have him processed. So I went along with them,” Mrs. Clarke-Ewan explained.
She told the Western Mirror that she asked a policewoman how long the processing would take, and was told that under the State of Emergency (now Enhanced Security Measures), it could be up to 14 days.
“He migrated in 2016 and he did not have a record, and had never been in jail – this was the first time that he would be sleeping in jail,” Mrs. Clarke-Ewan said. She continued: “This is so painful and it is very confusing. How you can just pick up someone randomly, without a reason, and lock them up? They said to the public ‘you need to have your identification on you’ – but that does not help.”
The very distraught wife further said:
“I tried to get additional information, but everyone I spoke with was either rude or very insensitive and kept referring me to other persons. One person remarked: ‘People have been here since last week, so what so special about him?’ That made me really upset, but I could not do anything,” she said.
Mrs. Clarke-Ewan said it was after 5 p.m. before her husband was allowed to eat a bowl of soup, and she had to beg and plead with a policewoman at the station to allow it.
“I, myself, have not eaten. I had been at the station for more than 18 hours, had a headache, and am frustrated and upset our plans have been ruined! How are we to recover from this devastating experience? My husband spent close to US$700 dollars to come here to celebrate our anniversary, only to be arrested and detained. I don’t even know how to express myself at this point,” explained Clarke-Ewan.
Garfield was scheduled to depart for Baltimore on Sunday, February 18, but his wife says that seems to be in jeopardy, and so too is his job, which he should resume today, Monday.
“I said to one policeman: ‘My husband is to resume his job in Baltimore on Monday, what happens if he loses his job?’ He was very flippant and his response was ‘That has nothing to do with me, not my concern’”.
Mrs. Clarke-Ewan seems to be understandably overwhelmed by their predicament, and further explained to the Western Mirror: “What they have done is not only ruin his vacation, but also our wedding anniversary, because my relatives were not at the wedding, so we wanted to celebrate here with them. Now that is totally messed up. What they are doing is telling people who live in the USA not to come back to Jamaica. I am sure he will not want to come back to Jamaica after this very awful experience of being treated like a common criminal, when he has done nothing wrong.”
Mrs. Clarke-Ewan further questioned: “What is the purpose of this State of Emergency? Is it to stigmatize people in the inner-city areas?” The distraught Clarke-Ewan, she related that had she been from an upscale community, such as Westgate Hills, they would not have encountered the kind of treatment and stigmatization they experienced and continue to experience at the hands of the police.
Several attempts were made to get a comment from the top brass of the St. James Police on this matter, but to no avail, as they were all said to be out of office and could not be reached for a comment.