Gleaner Editors’ Forum | August Town political representatives distance themselves from criminals
Political representatives for the St Andrew Eastern constituency are adamant that they gain no political leverage by having criminals on the loose in the community of August Town, and therefore, have no vested interest in it.
Speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the company's North Street office in downtown Kingston yesterday, Member of Parliament for St Andrew Eastern Fayval Williams rejected the assertion.
"No! No! No! And you know why? Over the last two and a half years, I've been there. I've been to more funerals than I've been to in my entire life, and that is not something I look forward to. I've comforted a lot of families. It's not something I look forward to," she said.
Williams said that August Town has a lot of economic potential that is being hindered by ongoing violence in the community.
"When I look at August Town and the other communities adjoining the university, there is so much economic potential. The student housing potential, the Airbnb potential because of the culture and all of that that's there," said Williams, who is also minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.
"I mean, those are programmes that we should be putting our energies into, but you take one step forward and 10 steps back, and it gets frustrating."
YOU CANNOT DEAL WITH THEM UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND THEM
People's National Party caretaker for the constituency and councillor for the Papine division Venesha Phillips also sought to distance herself from the criminal elements in the community. She told editors and reporters at the forum that as a politician, one attracts a wide cross section of persons, but that that doesn't mean one supports what they do.
"A part of your job is to meet with them. You cannot deal with them until you understand them. Do you support their activities? Absolutely not as far as I am concerned. As a matter of fact, the police and community can speak to my record when it comes to dealing with criminal elements in the community," Phillips said, while stating that she has asked residents who feel intimidated to give her the information so that she could pass it on to the police.
August Town has recorded 13 murders since the start of the year.