‘Bring back the State of Emergency!’

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Boots on the ground

Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter

Last week, following Friday’s report of some eight persons being killed across sections of Western Jamaica, six more persons were reported to have been cut down under violent circumstances, effectively marking what has been one of the bloodiest periods in the West since the murder spike in 2018.

As other instances of criminality continue to rise – to include a heist in a section of downtown Montego Bay last Thursday evening, where over 2 million dollars were reportedly stolen, some residents have expressed that they are increasingly becoming fearful.

“Jah know bredda, St. James a gwaan bad enuh. Is like di man dem couldn’t wait fi di State of Emergency fi gweh fi dem start wid dem foolishness again. Mi soon cut enuh, caz mi nuh waa get ketch inna dis,” explained a man, who requested to be identified only as Cyril, in response to a question posed by the Western Mirror. “Unu nuh see it? Unu nuh see how dem slap out di two man dem head back pon Barnett Street Thursday gone? You hear wa mi seh don’t? Mi gone.”

Cyril’s view is just one of many shared with the Western Mirror in a question-and-answer session recently.

“Right now, sir, as soon as sun go down, mi lock shop and head home. Mi prefer lose money before mi lose mi life. Even when mi a go home, mi paranoid, and even after mi reach home, mi still paranoid. It hard to find peace these days, because how tings a run, you never know when somebody feel like seh a your turn fi dead,” shared *Cynthia, a bar operator in  Trelawny. The 36-year-old woman also shared with the Western Mirror that currently, she feels the best option is to get away from Jamaica. “Listen, I know they say foreign a nuh bed of roses, but mi honestly feel like mi woulda do better anywhere but here. I’ve lived in this community all mi life, and if mi cyaa feel safe here, so what’s the sense? Mi nuh know yaa man. It just sticky everywhere you turn.”

*Jevaughn, a 22-year-old  university student, had a different perspective on what’s happening across the West, and was quick to share it with this newsroom. “I know it looks bad because it’s all you hear about in the news, but, objectively speaking, things are not as bad as they seem. If anything, we have a chance to stop things from being as bad as they can be if we act fast. I do have doubts about whether or not we can apply effective remedies, but even with that being the case, things aren’t that bad.” The Business Management Studies student, when quizzed about whether or not he considered migrating as a result of the crime situation, shared: “No. Well, to be honest, I do plan on migrating, but not because of the crime situation. It’s actually a lot worst in some of the places we look at as better options, such as the US. But no, I’m not migrating because of crime. I’m migrating because of a lack of reasonable employment options. Oh also, most of my family is over in the States, so there’s that too.”

Evident in some of the responses were calls by some to reinstate the State of Emergency. In one instance, a high school teacher, who requested to remain anonymous, appeared furious at the lack of reasonable substitutes to crime-fighting, particularly in St. James. “I teach in one of the schools where majority of my students are from the inner-city areas, and though there are a few of them who seem to glorify crime, there are also those who are deathly fearful for their lives. They do not feel safe, any at all. That makes it hard to deal with, and as an educator, that makes my job, and that of others, a lot more difficult than it has to be. How do we expect our children to learn some of these complex subjects, when we have to spend a great deal of time trying to rehabilitate them from the crippling fear that haunts them? It’s a shame that the government hasn’t seen it fit introduce an effective crime-fighting measure that could approximate to the effect the State of Emergency has. It’s one hell of a shame to be honest.”

Though not all responses could be shared in these spaces, a number of them saw residents across the West begging for something to be done about the spiraling crime rate. As one other resident expressed, “This feels a lot like in 2017 or 2018 when we were having all those murders and nothing was being done about it. What ended up happening was the West experiencing historic numbers in murders and crimes. It looks like we headed back there. A time fi wi bring back the State of Emergency.”

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