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Joseph Edwards | Of garrisons, gangs and guns

Published:Tuesday | October 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMJoseph Edwards

I am appalled at the ease with which criminals, squatters and political misfits can get away with things in Jamaica. By now, every reading person in Jamaica knows that the root of our crime stems from divisive politics which has mushroomed into a carnival of gangs, gun wars and informal settlements known as garrisons.

To identify garrisons, one only need check with the various political divisions to see where there is a cobweb of wires in the sky going across the road attached to the JPS wires, which then disappears beneath some rotten boards or old, rusty zinc fences into what are called yards.

Also, the loud and vulgar music being blasted at any time of the day in the presence of all and sundry is another sign; so, too, the cadre of young, able-bodied persons of working age in the streets all day milling around aimlessly, with a big ganja spliff in their mouth corner, half-dressed or playing dominoes, bingo or card during work hours.

Such a shameful sight and blight on this beautiful nation, but the very active human-rights groups do not see that! What they see is the perceived mischief of the police trying to rid the society of criminals and using strong-arm tactics, in their view.




Back to the substantive matter. So poor are those persons, according to the politicians, that they the politicians constantly supply their basic needs, food and clothing, and when it suits them shelter, not to forget sending them to school, giving them Christmas treats and, when life is over, burying their dead.

Take, for example, the numerous high-rise apartment buildings along Spanish Town Road made from the National Housing Trust coffers and given as gifts to political faithful in order to maintain a pool of votes and embolden the level and spirit of laziness in these constituencies. Others just take a plot of land and call it theirs. How criminal; but are there sanctions? No way!

Can we survive as a country when undesirables and mendicancy-driven individuals continue to be bred and cherished by those in political leadership? One can just imagine the sentiments that are being nurtured by allowing these persons to live free; and if that is not enough, they are then allowed to get away, literally, with murder and robbery.

When a crime takes place and the perpetrator runs through a few zinced-up alleys like a rat in a garrison, he cannot be found again! There is no structure and no proper way or place to police. Hence, garrisons breed criminals and crime. Most serious crimes require guns, and there is no shortage of them in the ghettoes/garrisons. As soon as the police remove guns from the streets, more seem to fall into criminal hands. Indeed, the police seem to be fighting a losing battle, aided and abetted by the garrisons and politicians.




Tell me, why should some people be asked to go to school and do well, get qualifications, work hard, save and buy houses or land and build houses or borrow monies and repay loans until they are grey, while another set of parasites in garrisons are allowed to just put up old ply boards, pieces of discarded notice boards, rusty zinc, cloth and plastic on people's land or take over old, abandoned buildings? Then, after a number of years, they have the audacity to present themselves on television and to be heard on radio claiming ownership and a right to people's lawful property.

This is a stark reality that cries out for justice in Jamaica; squatters should be made to understand that it cannot be business as usual. Persons should be evicted and no amount of tears or number of children they have should be used as justification not to evict them. It matters not if you lived there one day or 100 years, if it is not yours, it is still not yours! Truth is, if the parish councils were doing their jobs, that plague called squatting would by now be eliminated. Who authorised these buildings? Did they get approvals? How did they build a whole community/garrison without the knowledge of the relevant authorities?

What of the prerequisite infrastructure like light, water, and sewer systems before houses were erected? Are there any? If those informal communities/garrisons were not provided for and the proper systems put in place to accommodate them, shouldn't they be demolished by the parish councils?

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