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Peace talks - Mountain View area leaders hold discussions with stakeholders amid flare-up of violence

Published:Friday | December 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Children look through their gate as members of the Peace Management Initiative as well as parliamentarians and the police took a walk-through of the Mountain View communities in St Andrew to urge calm after a recent flare-up of violence in the area.
Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams (left) speaks with a mother as her child watches members of the police force and the PMI walk through the communities along Mountain View Avenue, yesterday.
The police and members of the PMI walk through an area off Mountain View Avenue, yesterday.
Parliamentarians Julian Robinson (second right), Fayval Williams, and Deputy Mayor Winston Ennis (second left) speak with a resident during a tour of Mountain View Avenue, yesterday.
A member of the Jamaica Defence Force keeps guard as members of the security forces, the PMI, and parliamentarians walk through the communities of Mountain View Avenue, yesterday.

Representatives of two warring factions from Mountain View, St Andrew, turned up at the Mountain View New Testament Church yesterday to engage in private talks with stakeholders - including the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force - intent on drawing the brakes on the recent upsurge of gun violence in the area.

Since the flare-up, which some residents say kicked off roughly three to four weeks ago, citizens of Mountain View have been on edge and in constant fear for their lives.

The residents most affected have been those living on Goodwich Lane and Jacques Road.

Deputy Superintendent Robert Walker, the head of the Kingston Eastern Police, told The Gleaner that after stakeholders and the men met, he was left to contemplate a concern expressed by residents that the last time peace was achieved in Mountain View, conditions were normalised for years, but stakeholders eventually dropped the ball.

"One of the things that members of the community said is that they don't want this [intervention[ to happen now, and then afterwards, we just drop it," Walker said.

"That has happened before, so we are really going to follow it up. Both sides are here. They had a symbolic shaking of the hands, and hugging, and so on. The meeting went well. A lot of people spoke, which included leaders from both sides."

He added: "The message was peace. They want the peace, and they said that they are going do everything to hold the peace. They said also that they want to go beyond a peace and begin to unite. (Residents say one man in particular) has been getting the blame and are saying that he is the cause of it all since him come back (from incarceration). Him seh him will do everything for the peace. So the PMI will be doing follow-ups, and we will be doing our thing."

Julian Robinson, member of parliament (MP) for South East St Andrew, was joined by Fayval Williams, MP for the nearby St Andrew Eastern constituency, on the walk-through of the communities.

Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams was also present.

PMI volunteer Milton Tomlinson did not mention the name August Town but stressed that the feat achieved by that community in 2016, when it recorded zero homicides, could not be compared to what Mountain View has achieved.

"In other places I hear people ask about formula and celebrate a year of no homicides. It's a joke because Mountain View has gone three years without a homicide before. It is very unfortunate that we have to be here under these circumstances because for about seven years or so, Mountain View has been relatively stable," Tomlinson said.

"I am sure we have gone three to four years without a homicide in the community. It's just since 2017 that Mountain View has been seeing homicides and flare-ups."

He added: "This just goes to show that constant initiatives are needed in communities because over time, you need to re-engage. Mountain View's (problem) is the lack of engagement. Talking about formula and peace, you have to look to Mountain View for that example. [However], we need engagement. I am calling out to the authorities to give us the resources to engage the community."

READ Please don't shatter Mountain View's peace!