Patria-Kaye Aarons | ‘Ok, One less’
About a year or two ago, I interviewed a known and respected elder from a St James address. His was a community once riddled with crime and criminals, and in a short space of time, a drastic turnaround was made in the police-reported statistics coming out of where he lived. His small corner no longer made the news for all the wrong reasons. When I asked him what had caused the peace, his response was very telling to me. He said very matter-of-factly, "The truth is, the criminals killed off each other, and those who were left, the police killed them".
It was then I got to thinking about this notion of 'Police death squads'. Were they necessary? On many an occasion people would publicly express a view that there was no saving some persons who had chosen a life of wrongdoing. Many believed that the law and courts would never catch up to those who created mayhem, that the lawless had become untouchables, answerable only to themselves. Those ruining our country with guns and drugs would never get caught, let alone have their day in court. And even if they did, poorly put-together cases and high-paid, high-powered lawyers would ensure their freedom. The only solution some saw was that police had every right to just take out the bad guys by any means necessary. There was little sympathy for the suspected gangster who got killed, whether by crony or cop. And some people genuinely felt in their hearts when it happened, "Ok. One less."
WILL ALWAYS FLOURISH
In the absence of a justice system that works, sentiments like 'Ok. One less' will always flourish.
The details we heard coming out of the Collis 'Chucky' Brown case should have sent chills through the spines of most. An internally sanctioned and funded set of police officers charged with killing Clarendon's troublemakers. Whenever, wherever, however. And yet, the public outcry was minimal. As is the case, oh so often, when entities like Jamaicans for Justice come forward with worrying details about police brutality or extrajudicial killings. It's the reason jungle justice is still alive in many Jamaican communities. There isn't the expected uproar and humanitarian public response because the scales of justice are imbalanced. Until prosecuted criminals outnumber innocent victims, Jamaicans will continue to be indifferent about how criminals meet their demise.
We have a lot that needs fixing. I'm not in agreement with the notion that criminals must be exterminated at all costs, but when you see them roaming free, without consequence, you understand people's apathy.
As an aside, Constable Collis 'Chucky' Brown was not a vigilante angel of death. He worked with a team. He took instructions from higher ups. And if he becomes the fall guy, unfortunate enough to sink the nails in his own coffin with his volunteered statement, justice has not been served. For justice to truly be served, Constable Brown must share his cell with familiar faces, all involved in the death squad.
Let's be real. Had Collis 'Chucky' Brown not given his statement, we very likely would not have got the verdict we did last week. And I take no comfort in that. As I see it, this ruling was not some giant victory for internal investigations and a legal system that works. Chucky Brown handed INDECOM the case on a platter. He confessed.
I'm not convinced that there exists a robust mechanism whether inside the Jamaica Constabulary Force or externally with INDECOM or some other monitoring agency, to identify and prosecute to the full extent of the law others like Chucky Brown, 'death squad' members from other parishes taking the law into their own hands and extracting 'justice' in the dead of night with fabricated stories and planted evidence.
Our justice system is broken at every link, and until we fix it, crime will continue to rule.