Sat | Apr 17, 2021

Allman Town children long for relief from crime

Published:Wednesday | March 3, 2021 | 12:20 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Shamoya James and Tyrese Grant, youth members of the St Matthew’s Optimist Club, show the peace sign during a Peace Day initiative at St Matthew’s Anglican Church Hall on Weevile Gordon Street in Allman Town, Kingston, on Tuesday.
Shamoya James and Tyrese Grant, youth members of the St Matthew’s Optimist Club, show the peace sign during a Peace Day initiative at St Matthew’s Anglican Church Hall on Weevile Gordon Street in Allman Town, Kingston, on Tuesday.
Members of the St Matthew’s Optimist Club participate in a Peace Day activity on Tuesday.
Members of the St Matthew’s Optimist Club participate in a Peace Day activity on Tuesday.
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The children of Allman Town have made an earnest plea to their fellow community members to bring violence to an end as they desire to experience more peace.

Up to Monday, 17 murders and 13 shootings were recorded in the Kingston Central Police Division where Allman Town is located.

That represents an 89 per cent increase in murders and 44 per cent rise in shootings compared to the corresponding period last year.

The worst of the violence in Allman Town saw three men shot and killed along Prince of Wales Street shortly after 7 p.m. on January 17. That incident occurred two days after the murder of an 80-year-old man, also in Allman Town.

Primary-level students in the community Optimist Club’s after-school programme joined thousands of children in muted commemoration of Peace Day, which was held under the pall of coronavirus containment measures that have limited the gathering ban to 10 persons.

Tuesday’s celebration gave them an opportunity to express themselves through dance and drama.

It was their idea to organise a dance to the popular tune of Jerusalema, by Master KG, underscoring the theme, ‘Let’s Shape Peace Together’.

Eleven-year-old Tyrese Grant asserted that crime and violence affects everyone, including children. He believes children can play a role by placing banners in the community to dissuade potential perpetrators.

“Peace needs to be here because the crime is bad,” Tyrese said.

Young Shamoya James echoed similar sentiments, noting that too many people are dying.

“The children are the change agents. We have been hearing a lot of bad news coming out of Allman Town, and today being Peace Day, they have decided to change the narrative,” explained president of the St Matthew’s Optimist Club, Isha McLeary.

She shared that the club has been operating in the area for 15 years with a mandate of catering to children through scholarships and mentorship. COVID-19 has disrupted the organisation’s reach, with a Saturday reading club being one of the casualties.

“We go to different basic schools and we supply them with food items for breakfast ... ,” McLeary told The Gleaner.

“We also cater to adults who are disaster victims and have lost their possessions from fires or floods, and wherever we can assist with care packages, we do.”

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com