Devon Dick | Commissioner Novelette Grant correct on miracles
Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant accepted the invitation of Boulevard Baptist Church to participate in the worship service on New Year's Sunday. She was asked to greet the brethren in congregation and during her address she said, '... and I will not be making any miracles, except that miracle comes from the people of Jamaica to renew their hearts, their minds and attitudes to become their brother's keeper . ..' (Gleaner January 2). What an excellent understanding of miracles.
Miracles are rare events in the Bible and are not everyday occurrences, otherwise it would not be dramatic and different. Miracles deviate from the normal course of nature. For example, the conception of Jesus through Virgin Mary with the aid of the Holy Spirit was a miracle for human being. However, after the miraculous conception of Jesus, the pregnancy was a normal nine-month one.
Grant cannot create miracles to facilitate a murder rate of zero for the nation in seven days. The point being made by Grant was that there are no quick fixes to our high murder rate. We are dealing with gang violence, domestic violence, reprisal killings.
We have gangs associated with our two major parties. We have garrison communities where a code of silence is the order of the day. We have a dominant culture that 'informa fe dead'. A feature of society is that we flash fellow motorists to alert them to police doing speed checks, not realising we could be informing serious criminals about police presence.
The time has long past for quick fixes. We tried it when the problem was not so serious and it has become 10 times worse. In 1974, we implemented the Gun Court because we were frightened by 195 murders for the year. We passed the Suppression of Crime Act giving sweeping powers to the police. This curtailed civil liberties for over a decade and was eventually ruled uncons-titutional. We had a state of emergency in 1976. We have had special police squads. We have had joint military and police operations. We have had curfews and cordon and search. We have tried 'Storming the Gates'; 'Bawl out', Candlelight Vigil, All Night Prayer Vigil, Peace March, Peace Walk, Peace Concerts, Sports Day, Football matches, National Prayer Breakfast, Evangelistic crusades, and we have gathered at Emancipation Park. We have built monument to children who have been murdered. We have social interventions targeting unattached youths. After all of this, last year the murder rate was higher than the previous year, about 1,300. If we did not have these activities it would have been worse, but the main objective has not yet been realised.
But then Grant gave us hope by a clever twist of interpretation of miracles which might escape the undiscerning. She said the miracle comes 'from the people of Jamaica to renew their hearts, their minds and attitudes to become their brother's keeper'. The majority of the people must lead a groundswell. This is the model of National Hero Sam Sharpe, who mobilised 20 per cent of the people in 1831. We were getting there during the Dudus saga when there was a national outcry in the face of the attack on police station and everybody felt insecure. We need another such moment.
The truth is that apart from Montego Bay, the crime and murders are confined to certain poorer areas, and one can almost predict the hotspots. Until the middle and upper classes become our brother's keeper; until the Government release more resources; until those 'Kingfish' who benefit from the criminal network are imprisoned, until the link between politics and violence and the private sector is dismantled, we will be whistling in the wind.
We need to understand what Grant said and support her.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.