Saturday, March 31, 2012

Community Vigilante Jungle No-Justice…

This is not the type of blog that I wanted to write but I cannot ignore the white elephant in the room, especially when some groups are calling for Justice, let's not be selective, lets demand 100% pure Blind Justice from each and every member of the Jamaican society.  

Let us not forget this favorite Jamaican past time, playing Judge, Jury and Executioner on those they suspect of committing a crime. We are outraged when the police do it, but cheer when we read that members of a community took it upon themselves to carry out their own brand of justice. You cannot want proper Justice sometimes but not at other times, you are sending mixed messages to an already confused society.

Growing up in Jamaica I have had the misfortune to witness Community Vigilante Jungle Justice up close on a number of occasions, it is something I am trying to wipe from my mind, humanity at its very worst. I remember two of these occasions very well, I was in my teens and on my way from school.

On the first occasion my friends and I entered the Plaza just when the chase phase of Jungle Justice was coming to an end and the beating phase was about to commence, yes sometimes the chase and beating phase are rolled into one but that is only when the victim refuses to stop running but is not running fast enough, this time the victim was cornered and beaten for the crime of being gay. He was beaten by an angry mob who shouted “beat di batty boy!!”… he managed to escape to the laughter and merriment of the mob.

Acting like Animals!!
Was this video viewed by the Police?
Did they try to identify the attackers?
Did they issue warrants for their arrest?

On the second occasion my friends and I was in Half Way Tree hanging out with some Holly Childhood girls waiting for the bus home when a woman accused a man of trying to take money from her hand bag. It seemed she felt someone going into her bag, looked up and accused the man standing behind her. The cry of pick pocket went out and an angry mob quickly surrounded the man, who was protesting his innocence, one man grabbed him by the shirt collar while the accuser continued to accuse.

We all knew what was coming, he knew what was coming as there is no reasoning with these people, not when they are in this mood, it was only a matter of time before the first kick and punch landed. He managed to break free and made a run for it but that was short lived as the crowd in Halfway Tree turned into Vigilantes as sidewalk sellers ran from their stalls to take up chase. That man was beaten to no end, he was kicked and punched and on one occasion a higgler woman decided to use her knife with great skill and efficiency like Edward Scissorhands.

After quenching their thirst for revenge and blood the mob slowly depart, leaving the motionless body of the man in the street, he seemed dead to me but at the tender age of 16, I did not know what being dead is supposed to look like. Amazingly during all this another man was trying to get the crowd’s attention it seemed he saw the initial incident, he said he saw the man who was trying to go into the woman’s bag and it was not the man who the angry mob was beating, but no one would listen, he said the guilty person made his escape during the diversion. This ladies and gentleman is why I do not support “Community Vigilante Jungle Justice”… I could have been that person standing behind that woman at that time and I would not be sitting here writing this.

There has been a recent increase in the number of reports regarding “Community Vigilante Jungle Justice” in action to the cheer and support of the online crowd. Several men was suspected of Praedial Larceny (Theft of agricultural produce), beaten and chopped up by the community, man suspected of stealing blackberry, beaten by community and the news goes on and on but where is the outrage? I am not saying that we should hug and kiss people suspected of a crime, far from it but we have a system of Justice in this country that requires our full support, we have laws, a court system, a Ministry of National Security and Justice, a police force and a military, so why is it left to the man in the street to play, Judge, Jury and Executioner?

If the Justice System is broken then fix it dear Liza but like everything else in this country we managed to find a way around everything, we never fix anything, we just find a different path. Water problem? then buy water tank, light problem? buy generator, road problem ? then buy big SUVs and problem with security? Carry out our own brand of jungle justice. I have yet to hear the powers that be set some standard and speak out against this with one voice this is because they know that if the Jamaican people choose the alternative then they will not put any pressure on the Government to fix anything, the Government gets an easy ride and I have yet to see "Jamaicans For Justice" organize to send a message to the people that this is wrong, no rallies, no protest. The name "Jamaicans for Justice" should cover every form of injustice not just injustice by the police, Community Vigilante Jungle No-Justice is not justice it is injustice and should be rallied against just like Police corruption and Crime and while we are at it lets also rally against Politician corruption and Crime, another class of Jamaicans who are so above the law.

In 2003 students of The University of Technology beat and murdered a man accused of breaking into cars on campus, the man jumped into a waste water pit as he attempted to escape after being cornered by an angry mob, the students lit fire to dry grass surrounding the pit to prevent the escape of the accused.

This is a perfect example that children live what they learn, I am sure like me most of these young adults have been witness to public beatings and execution and now thinks that this is how they should behave, this is normal behavior to them. One must also look at what percentage of these young adults were barrel pickney, children whose parenting and love came only from the occasional barrel and western union money their parents who have all but abandoned them and migrated to foreign to start a new life and family. A study must be done on the effects migration had on the kids that were left behind.

A small number of people spoke out against this type of behavior but on a whole public beatings and executions are accepted behaviors. The political class will pay lip service against this only if they think they can score political points from it. In most other countries the level and amount of condemnation would be consistent and persistent as various political and social leaders/groups visit the site of the murder and address the nation stating that this type of behavior was not accepted and against the law. That those who were involved would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, various rewards would have been offered for information and videos of the beating examined to identify those involved, they would have been rounded up, questioned and guilty party charged but not so in Jamaica where Jungle Justice is an accepted form of crime and punishment, accepted by the Police, Public , the political class and the proud dancehall DJ’s as stated by that semi-literate DJ Bounty Killa “ah dat fi happen to petty tief, beat up him bloodclaat”.

Read More: Cesspool death at UTech

Tuesday, repeating the mantra of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that "there is no health without mental health", Dr Hickling said other research work carried out by himself and a colleague in Jamaica showed that four out of every 10 Jamaicans have some form of personality disorder. "That's 40 per cent of our population. It's a serious issue and of course there is a corollary to that, that 60 per cent of us are without a personality disorder and in fact are resilient and productive," he said.

Read More: 'Psychopaths' - beheaders have severe personality disorders

THE MOB killing at the University of Technology (UTech) and the anti-social behaviour of some tertiary students, in general, have drawn further scrutiny and condemnation from another section of the society. Professor Barry Chevannes, Dean of the Social Science Faculty at the University of the West Indies, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis Muhammad, American civil rights activist, have added their voices to the debate on the behaviour of tertiary students.

Read More: Chevannes slams UTech mob killing

Young Animals!

An angry mob chopped to death three men accused of stealing a goat in Westmoreland in a bloody weekend which saw at least 10 Jamaicans being killed.Reports from the police are that, about 8:30 Saturday night, the three men were seen with a goat in a Toyota motor car on a farm in Fort William district. An alarm was raised and residents converged on the scene, beating and chopping the men to death.

Read More: Mob massacre - Alleged goat thieves savaged in Westmoreland

Update: April 2nd 2012 - Jamaicans For Justice Response:

Visit site: Jamaicans for Justice

Thank you for sharing your blog. Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) agrees that “community vigilante justice” is not justice and opposes all acts of violence that contravenes the rule of law. The rule of law is based on standards and important procedures to which all citizens, are subjected. No matter what crime a person is alleged to have committed, he or she should be brought to book, for the law to take its proper course.

Therefore, as a citizens’ rights organisation advocating for good governance and state accountability and transparency, JFJ sees “community vigilante justice”, as undermining the functioning of the rule of law and the proper systems put in place to achieve justice. We have indeed spoken out against vigilante acts. We have made appearances in the media and have written press releases condemning mob violence (please see below a sample). In spite of this, much more needs to be done to bring an end to the increasing incidence of the use of it across the country.

We are glad to see that another well-thinking Jamaican as you, taking up the mantle to end this chaotic and destructive force.

For release Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Mob Violence Abhorrent and Unacceptable
Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is deeply disturbed by yet another incident of mob violence directed at persons who are alleged to be gay. This latest incident is particularly abhorrent because it occurred during a funeral service on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007, at a church outside Mandeville. It is alleged that members of a mob surrounded the church and hurled missiles through a window at the back of the church, directed at persons in attendance who were alleged to be homosexual. This latest incident reflects intolerance, ignorance and a blatant disregard for human rights and the rule of law, behavior that is unacceptable in a democratic society.
The Easter Sunday incident follows an assault on allegedly homosexual men attending the MoBay Nite Out Carnival on April 2, 2007, as well as another very public incident of mob violence against alleged homosexuals, which occurred in Kingston in February of this year. JFJ condemns the use of violence in any situation, against any group of people living in Jamaica and is particularly concerned that incidents of violence against gay men are shamefully pervasive and appear to be increasing in frequency.

Much more must be done to bring an end to the increasing incidence of the use of mob violence across the country. Mob violence is destructive and abhorrent in a democracy supposedly built on the rule of law. A great deal of work must also be done to ensure the dignity and equality of all human beings, including sexual minorities, and leaders in all sectors of society must loudly and publicly condemn the use of violence as a means of problem solving in any situation. It is long past time for Jamaicans to acknowledge that all people, without any exceptions, must be treated as human beings whose dignity and equality should be respected.

We call on the police to investigate the matter speedily and professionally and on the leaders of church, state and the private sector to raise their voices loudly in condemnation of mob violence in any circumstance and in support of the rule of law.
I cannot Stress enough the importance of Public Advocacy Groups like “Jamaicans for Justice” and   “Jamaica Environment Trust” we the public must support these groups and get behind them in their fight for equal rights and justice and for the protection of the environment, at the end of the day when our backs are against the wall it is these groups who will defend the rights of man. We must empower these groups since they are trying to protect our interest. There power comes from the support of the people, they are the force that will stand between us and tyranny, they are not trying to tear down Jamaica, they are in fact trying to create a solid foundation from which we can build a proper just society.

Clovis Toon: Mob Killings


  1. Why is it left to the public? Because for too many years the police and all these other arms of the law haven't been there for the ones with no money to hire a fancy lawyer. So people take it into their own hands.

    I see why it happens perfectly clearly. It is not the problem, it points to the problem, it's a symptom of the problem. Lax enforcement of laws or biased or elitist enforcement of laws will cause things like this.

    America has very biased and elitist enforcement of laws and that is why most of the disadvantaged never get ahead there, they just tread water while those who know how to game the system or have the money to outright by their way out walk out on their victims with smiles on their faces.

    Jamaicans just aren't the type to just sit there and take it, not when so much else in life is hard to come by. And I have no problem with that. I have a problem with the legal system not being strong enough to encourage widespread faith in it. People who believe the law will work for them most of the time, will not feel vigilante justice is the first or only option.

  2. Thank you so much for responding, I totally agree that we have a problem with the Justice system in Jamaica, not only that we have lots of other problems, services that should be provided but is not.. It is up the people to fix these issues they will not fix themselves… If we really care we would shut down this country and demand that our Government provided the services that we are paying them for, as a people we fix nothing on a society level, just personal level.

    As a society we are not pro-active and organized so we get nothing fixed, we just go around the problem and implement our own solutions which does not fix the problem on a society level.I want more people involvement, I was more pro-active people,I want people to organize and be advocates, steering the government and the powers that be in the right direction for the good of the country. mass organized protest, shutting the country down, marching to the seat or power demanding that they fix the problem.