Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter
Just days after Dr. Horace Chang promised to aggressively tackle criminal elements during this, the festive season, some residents are being made to experience the hellish side of that promise. In a matter of days, the community of Flanker has seen a number of its male residents swept up, allegedly beaten and detained by the security forces, with no hope of being released until 2020, marking what is shaping up to be a dark Christmas for themselves and their families.
That situation has sprung attorney-at-law, Charles Sinclair, into action, who has since made a submission to the Emergency Powers Tribunal on behalf of 11 men from the community who were detained, demanding due consideration for the men to be released.
The men were detained when a joint police/military team raided the community, picked them up, and took them to the St. James Police headquarters in Freeport, Montego Bay, where they have since been held. Things did not go that smoothly, however, for those who were detained, with family members relating to the Western Mirror the traumatizing circumstances under which their loved ones were taken.
Latoya Gardener, the common law wife of 33-year-old chef, Todd Perkins, one of the men detained, said he was brutalized and locked up with no explanation.
“He went to buy box food from a food shop around the corner and when dem see him, dem give him some box! Dem haul and pull him and lick him; thump him inna him blind eye, and fling him in a wall. Them even carry him over a yard and try fi shoot him – but the clip drop out,” shared with the Western Mirror.
It was a different scenario for John Smith, a tiler, who was in the process of laying tiles, when he was approached by the police, as explained by his sister, Elaine Thompson.
“He was working, doing tiling, when they came up to him. He said, ‘A work mi a work’ and the police say, ‘A work mi a work to’, and dem throw him tools aside and then pull him weh. They did not hurt him, but when we ask why, they said, ‘Shut up! It’s State of Emergency’.”
Marvin Lewis must have prayed that he had stayed at church some time longer, as he was swept up by the lawmen after coming from church with his family.
Sasekie Lewis, Lewis’ sister, explained what happened with her brother. “Him just pick up him mother and daughter – him family from church, and the bus was left on the highway. As he stepped out of the bus and walked in, they took him up and say ‘gwaan inna the truck!’ and carried him down with them.”
In another case, Monica Hendricks, the mother of Delano Innis, one of the others detained, said her son was just standing among a group of people when the joint police/military team commandeered him to join the rest of the men in the truck.
Amidst the detainments, the families of the men are relying on the work of the hot-shot attorney to bring their relatives home for the holidays.
Sinclair shared his experience in trying to help the families with the Western Mirror. “I have spoken to police officers. Nobody has presented anything to me for their detention; there has been no interview, save the regular processing, but no question and answer. What I have done on their behalf is submitted the application to the tribunal for them to determine whether they [the men] should continue in detention or if they should be released”.
Sinclair further explained that comments from police officers are suggesting that the men are going to be detained until January 2020, despite no valid reasons being given for their detention.
“It is something that I have raised with the Minister [of National Security] to say that anybody who is detained under Regulation 30 of the Emergency Powers Regulation, which allows a police officer or a member of the military to detain a person for reasonable cause, that they were in an act that threatened public safety, that a statement be written which outlines what this reasonable cause is based on, which must be made available to the detainee or to his attorney. I have not been able to get any such information.”