Sun | Nov 18, 2018

'Despicable!' - Upset about crime, Jamaican diaspora caution against tarring everyone as gunrunners

Published:Monday | October 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
Irwine Clare
Kerensia Morrison
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A leading voice in the Jamaican diaspora has fired back at government Senator Kerensia Morrison, pointing out that the shipment of guns and ammunition found at the wharf in Kingston last week is not a reflection of all Jamaicans living overseas.

"This does not represent the diaspora," declared Irwine Clare, former chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board for the northeastern region of the United States.

"To think that folks here in the diaspora are fuelling this scourge on our society is frightening and despicable."

He said, like Morrison, there are patriotic Jamaicans living overseas who are perturbed "and very mad" about the levels of criminality in their homeland.

However, the outspoken businessman cautioned against comments that would paint those living outside Jamaica as contributors to the country's crime problem.

"Before we hasten to make statements that cast a wide swath of accusation on the diaspora, let's be factual about our pronouncements," he warned.

Morrison, who was speaking in the Senate last Friday during the debate on the extension of the state of public emergency in the Corporate Area, appealed to Jamaicans overseas to help stem the murder rate in their homeland by stop shipping guns into the country.

"Send us opportunities. Send us the school fees. Send the lunch money. Send the money to give youths a start. Do not send them murder in a barrel," said Morrison.

The appeal came after 26 guns, 640 assorted rounds of ammunition, and 42 magazines were seized at the wharf over a 24-hour period.

Last Wednesday, the Contraband Enforcement Team and the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch found an Uzi submachine gun, nine pistols, 640 bullets, and 26 magazines inside a barrel that also contained food items.

According to investigators, the barrel was shipped from the state of Georgia in the United States and was addressed to a man in Mona, St Andrew.

The following day, the police, through their communications unit, revealed that 16 nine-millimetre pistols and 16 magazines were found at another section of the wharf. Investigators believe that both incidents are related.

"Who are sending these guns? We hear some Jamaicans who live abroad say, 'Oh, we are afraid of coming back; Oh, there is too much killing.' Help us to fight crime. We do not want any guns in any food barrel," Morrison insisted during her address to the Upper House.

Clare said if Jamaicans living overseas are to partner with local authorities, "the approach must be a civil one."

"Jamaica's crime travesty is way deeper than guns allegedly exported from the diaspora," he reasoned.

Clare suggested that Morrison and the Jamaica Government seek to have meaningful dialogue with Jamaicans living abroad.

"I am sure that with the vast number of strategically placed Jamaicans in law enforcement and other supportive areas of expertise [in the US], a working relationship can be established that seeks to find solutions to the situation at hand," he said.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com