Sir David gets Tivoli's vote of confidence
CHAIRMAN OF the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry Sir David Simmons has received a vote of confidence from residents of Tivoli Gardens who have described him as being impartial and a keen listener.
The accolades came during a two-hour tour of the west Kingston community by Simmons and fellow commissioners, Professor Anthony Harriott and Justice Hazel Harris, along with attorneys and other participants in the enquiry.
"He has been a keen listener to both sides of the thing and he is splitting justice," said one woman who did not give her name.
"He is being a fair chairman," said the woman who held up a sign that read: "Welcome Sir David Simon, thank you for helping us."
The long-time Tivoli Gardens resident said it felt good to know that someone was hearing "the cry of the people of Tivoli".
"I've been through many tragedy in here and seen so many things, and to know that somebody, somebody to God Heavenly Father be the glory, is hearing Tivoli people cry ..." she said, fighting back tears.
Simmons, the former chief justice of Barbados, told reporters after the tour that the commission was heartened by the residents' response.
"A commission of enquiry tends to generate its own momentum, but it is also important that a commission of enquiry has public support," he said.
Simmons emphasised that the tour was important and described it as "most illuminating".
"We've had oral evidence and that has painted certain pictures, but there is nothing like going and seeing for yourself the location of properties that were damaged and to try to understand how they were damaged and from which direction shots came," he explained.
The three-member panel is probing the conduct of the May 2010 police-military operations in Tivoli Gardens that were aimed at capturing drug kingpin Christopher 'Dudus' Coke. According to a report by the Office of the Public Defender, 74 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force were killed during the operations.
Amid tight security, Simmons was mobbed by scores of residents after he emerged from the bus that transported him to the west Kingston community.
"You nuh waan nuh bodyguard behind you, we wi bodyguard you," shouted one woman who was among a group of residents who wanted to show him properties they claim were damaged by members of the security forces during the operation.
Simmons told The Gleaner he was humbled by the outpouring of affection from the residents.
"I wish to thank the residents for turning out and welcoming us. They were very supportive. It was a pity we could not walk every little nook and cranny in the area. That would have been impossible on a visit like this," he said.
Yesterday marked the end of day 30 of the enquiry, which is scheduled for 90 days. The hearings are scheduled to resume on May 26.