Fri | Aug 18, 2017

'The good haffi suffer fi the bad' - Mount Salem residents ready to give up rights in state of emergency

Published:Wednesday | September 28, 2016 | 9:14 AMLivern Barrett
Mount Salem has not escaped the crime wave in St James.

Residents of Mount Salem, the thriving yet violent community located in the Greater Montego Bay area, have started to bury loved ones killed in the latest crime wave sweeping across St James.

Amid the funerals, however, came a very sobering warning from one resident.

The lifelong Mount Salem resident suggested that it was time to take back the community from vicious criminals who have had them cowering in fear, but acknowledged that this could have deadly consequences.

“There are going to be some casualties, and it’s hard, because me nuh wah dead. Are we willing to stand up and be the first casualty in order to effect this change?” asked the middle-age woman, who, like many others, declined to give her name.

“Let’s say there are 100 persons living in the community. Three are bad. Am I going to allow those three to make me become fearful. Hell no!” declared the woman.

“We should not allow the three per cent (criminals) to dictate how we live. Either mek dem join we (law-abiding residents) or we tek dem out,” she underscored.

Since the start of this year, 200 people have been reported killed in St James, and Mount Salem has not escaped the clutches of crime.

According to one man, the community has seen more than a dozen killings in the past two months.

The most recent killing took place last Friday when a shop owner and his nephew were sprayed with bullets by unknown assailants.

“There was a funeral two Sundays ago, there was a funeral last Sunday, there is one tomorrow (today) and there is one on Sunday,” the 53-year-old told The Gleaner yesterday.

He said several families have already fled the community. Weary residents told The Gleaner they would welcome a limited state of emergency in the parish, even though it would strip them of some of their constitutional rights.

CALMING THE NERVES

“The good haffi suffer fi the bad,” said one man who was firmly in support of a limited state of emergency.

Shortly before mid-morning yesterday, The Gleaner’s investigative team encountered a group of men drinking rum in the troubled community.

“When you drink the rum, it mek you forget all what a gwaan ... . You don’t think about it all that much and tek it to heart,” one drinker explained. “Calm yuh nerves. The whole a St James hot,” another man chimed in.

He said because of the fear gripping the residents, many believe that it is safer for them to be outdoors rather than inside their house.

“When you deh outside, you can see dem a come and try run and save you life, but when you inside, you nuh have no chance fi escape,” he reasoned.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com