‘Spineless & disgraceful’ - St James councillors exchange heated words over ending of the state of emergency
"Weak", "spineless", and "disgraceful" were among the heated words thrown across the aisle at the St James Municipal Corporation (StJMC) yesterday. The majority Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors were upset as they blasted their People's National Party (PNP) colleagues over the Opposition's decision not to support an extension of the state of public emergency in the parish.
"In addition to the shocking news from the Opposition to not support the state of emergency, what was even more frightening to me is when I see our four minority members in the StJMC issue a press release in support of the Opposition," said an irate Councillor Homer Davis, mayor of Montego Bay, who is also chairman of the StJMC.
In taking aim at the four PNP councillors, Davis said that some of them were among those crying out when criminals had the parish under siege, yet they now lacked the courage to stand in defence of an enhanced security measure that has caused a significant reduction in crime, especially murders.
Adamant that the state of emergency was not in the best interest of the country and its citizens, on Tuesday, the parliamentary Opposition voted in Gordon House against an extension of the enhanced security measures in St James, St Catherine north, and sections of Kingston.
"I am disappointed. Among the four of you, none has got up in this council and praised the state of emergency," Davis charged at yesterday's monthly meeting. "I have seen the Granville Division councillor (Michael Troupe) on a clip (on television) crying for help, and now I see you backtracking. You are spineless and weak! This is your parish, and your divisions have benefited immensely more than any other."
In his defence, the usually feisty Troupe, who is the PNP minority leader in the StJMC, said that while he supported all reasonable efforts to put an end to lawlessness and supported reasonable measures to curb it, he was against measures that trampled on the constitutional rights of citizens.
"No one is saying that we don't want to see a crime reduction or that the SOE did not make an impact in St James," Troupe countered. "We are saying, keep the police barricades, continue the searches, but it can't continue if 4,000 young men are being taken and locked up from four days up to four months."
He continued: "The constitutional rights of detainees must be respected. I have people in my division who have been locked up for four months and not charged. Mothers can't see their children for days, and if you say it is nonsense, then you are a liar!"
However, buoyed by the support of his colleagues, including Senator Charles Sinclair, Davis said it was not a partisan matter but what was right to bring order to the parish.
"We have to stand up for what is right and not what our party wants. We are here to serve the people. I say to the minority leader, shame on you!" Davis said.