Entertainment community fears zones of special operation
There is heightened concern within many inner-city communities that the implementation of the zones of special operation (ZOSO) law could greatly impact entertainment activities and by extension economic gains.
"It is going to put a dent in the industry, and it is going to have a devastating economic impact," Patrick Roberts, councillor for the Molynes Division in Kingston said.
The ZOSO represents an attempt by the Government to quell the spiralling murder rate. When implemented, the law will allow the security forces to restrict movement in certain communities, which could include the shutting down of parties and events.
Some 891 murders were reported up to August 5, 21 per cent more than the corresponding period last year.
Roberts, head of Shocking Vibes Records, argues that lawmakers should focus on fixing the justice system.
"They could come with 40 special zones, it cannot solve crime," he said.
Roberts said that entertainment activities, especially bingos and round robins, are essential drivers of economic activities in inner-city communities. He said that many persons organise to get their 'draws' around important periods such as back-to-school. He reckons that if these activities are disrupted in order to implement the ZOSO, it could be spell danger for the society.
"People will not be able to send their children to school, and I don't think that is something we want," Roberts said, while arguing that there is little evidence to suggest that dances and parties are being shot up.
"The shootings take place at the wee hours of the nights when people are not on the road ... Nobody is shooting up a party," the councillor and music producer said.
However, with some sections of the country grappling with an upsurge in violence, the police have taken the decision to deny or restrict permits that are granted for events held in some troublesome areas.
The decision has seen members of the music industry crying foul. However, commanding officer for St Andrew South, Superintendent Arthur Brown, told The Gleaner that the clampdown is intended to curtail crime in volatile areas.
Brown, who was tight-lipped about the implementation of the ZOSO, told The Gleaner that the force is committed to its decision to pull back on the issuing of permits to violent areas.
"Once there is an increase of violence in certain areas we will not issue any permits," he said.
But popular selector Boom Boom continues to back the hosting of events in communities. The selector, who was as brutally attacked and beaten as he left an event in 2010, told The Gleaner that the police are exaggerating the capacity for events to facilitate criminal activities.
"When last you go to a event and see people a fight or a give gun salute? Parties make peace in the ghetto and creates unity plus make money. I play at a lot of events, and all I see is peace. Crime might occur around the events, but it does not usually affect the event or its supporters. Tourists attend all these hard-core events in the ghetto, and they walk through some of the most violent communities and nobody not even look pan dem," he said.
The top flight selector said he believes the police ought to increase their presence at parties if they are indeed concerned about the safety of patrons.
"To say you are locking off events, you are stopping people's food. You can't say you want to protect us then you want us to stay in our houses and dead fi hungry. If people did a dead inna dance, you would have seen it in the news," he said.