Fri | Nov 22, 2019

Garnett Roper | From Brogad to the Israelis

Published:Wednesday | November 6, 2019 | 12:24 AM
Garnett Roper
Andrew Holness
Donald Tapia, US ambassador to Jamaica.
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“And if yuh nah seh 6ix, no gyal don’t want yuh

Bobby inna di Axio, me inna di Prado

Pssst, Brownin’ yuh nuh hear mi deh call yuh”

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has become the patron saint of the Brogad posse. Jamaica has reneged on the revamped security arrangements with the US through the MOU 2 and proposes to replace it with cybersecurity arrangements with the Israelis. What do the two things have to do with each other? Much more than is readily apparent.

The MOU 2 came to public light in the saga that led to the eventually extradition of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in 2010 and his subsequent guilty plea in USA on charges of racketeering. Dudus was the heir of the infamous Shower posse that acquired its name and reputation for showering its victims with bullets. ‘Shower’ has been, either because of it or coincident with it, the preferred street name for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

This is what labourites call themselves, and this is what is shouted from their political platforms.

In order to thwart the possible arrest and extradition of Dudus to the USA, the Bruce Golding-led JLP administration expended a great deal of political capital, damaged Jamaica’s good name, and cost itself a possible second term. Indeed, the political career of Bruce Golding ended on the Dudus altar.

“Human rights do not end at Liguanea,” Golding famously said.

By all accounts, the JLP committed itself to end the MOU which allowed law enforcement to intercept telecommunications activities among criminal gangs (especially narco-trafficking activities, but not restricted to that alone). It also allowed for such intercepts to be shared with international partners, including the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The JLP has never demurred from its intention to, in that respect, remove a critical and effective tool that law enforcement has used to good effect, of which Dudus is the most infamous example. Neither has the JLP demurred in its claim of the Shower epithet. One might therefore say that the revamping of the MOU is promised kept.

In that regard, one must pay attention to the tweet by US Ambassador Tapia, against whom, up to now, comments have been unfairly gratuitous, that the US continues to value its long-standing security cooperation with Jamaica.

“As ambassador, my commitment is to work with the Jamaican Government to expand our partnership in the area of security,” Tapia tweeted.

The ambassador’s use of social media must be read in response to the claim being made by the minister of national security, Dr Horace Chang, that such arrangements were unconstitutional. Dr Chang has made this assertion without being able to provide evidence that this was ever tested in the courts and, clearly, to the chagrin of his international partners, of which the USA is one.

LEADERS MUST LEAD

This is the context in which the as-of-yet in-transparent or untested cybersecurity arrangements between the Jamaica Defence Force and the Israelis is to be examined. Whatever else the new arrangements do, they will prevent evidence being gathered against the international criminal underworld in the way it was done against Dudus and the Shower posse.

In the same way that Shower spraying murder victims with bullets have become part of JLP street vernacular, Brogad, “if yuh nah seh 6ix, no gyal don’t want yuh”, has now been associated with the PM.

What is this 6ix to which reference is being made? Is it not the story of the five brothers extrajudicially executed by the police, with the one remaining brother becoming a reputed murderer and gang boss?

Those who know these things tell me that Brogad and 6ix boss are immensely popular things among young people. So much so that if you speak against them, they tell me, you alienate young people.

I remember the days of crack cocaine being more popular than slice bread in the Bronx when Mayor Giuliani began his zero-tolerance crusade against crime. There are many dead, and more in prison, as a result of that crack epidemic.

If murder is popular, it is no reason to endorse it. One is by no means making a simplistic equivalency. One is cautioning that political leadership and political action needs to be unequivocal in its support of the rule of law, and neither the new arrangements with the Israeli nor the new dance fad achieves that.

Where do our leaders stand on gang culture, and where do we stand in stamping out the scourge of gang and murders in our country? To what length do we intend to go to enforce the rule of law and to protect the future of the Jamaican people?

Leaders must lead, and the example they set is important. Mixed signals may accomplish public relations jaunts but have no real value in the long run.

Criminality is entrenching itself as a viable option for too many, it is time for leadership to act with courage and commitment to the greater good of the nation.

Neither Brogad nor Israeli does that.

Garnett Roper is president of the Jamaica Theological Seminary. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.