Sat | Aug 19, 2017

'Tell us the formula' - State minister wants August Town's 'zero murders' replicated

Published:Monday | January 9, 2017 | 1:00 AMRomario Scott
Member of Parliament for Eastern St Andrew Fayval Williams presents a ‘zero murder’ shirt to recording artiste and long-time August Town resident Miguel ‘Sizzla’ Collins (right), while Pearnel Charles Jr, state minister for national security, looks on.

Pearnel Charles Jr, state minister in the Ministry of National Security, last week extended an invitation to members of the Sizzla Youth Foundation and other key stakeholders to share with him the formula that resulted in a turnaround of the once notorious August Town community.

August Town, located in Eastern St Andrew, achieved a milestone in 2016 by recording zero murders when, in years gone by, it recorded an average of up to eight murders because of open gang warfare and political tension.

During a function which saw community members gathered in Bryce Hill square to celebrate a year of no bloodletting, the state minister said August Town has given him tangible evidence and ammunition to push back against those who sometimes tell him that Jamaica is a lost cause and cannot be transformed.

MISSION POSSIBLE

"What August Town has shown is that when people come to me and say 'Jamaica is off the edge and we can't make a difference', you have given me an opportunity and tangible evidence to reject that statement."

Charles said teachers, professors, and pastors must "commit to ensuring that anybody within your earshot, at least this week, make sure your sermon is titled 'the mission is possible.'"

The state minister argued that August Town is a demonstration of what can occur if communities come together, understanding it requires resilience, for the greater good.

"I am hoping that we can sit down and find out exactly what the formula is that has resulted in this success ... so we can repeat it and extend it across our beloved Jamaica," Charles said as he paid tribute to the groups and individuals who have rescued the community from the paws of violence.

In particular, Charles showered the police with praise for their service to August Town.

"They are the ones that, when things were hot, many of those police officers were still there," the state minister said, while at the same time encouraging the community to continue to work with the police to maintain the peace.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com