Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Party flags symbols of political apartheid

Published:Monday | December 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I note Venesha Phillips' defence of the displaying of political flags. I strongly disagree with Ms Phillips' stance.

I believe political flags do not have a place in our democracy. In defending her tribalism, she pointed to the US political environment. In comparing Jamaica with the US, she highlighted that it was not the flags that caused violence, but the people. She further advanced that in the US, people usually place political emblems on their homes.

Ms Phillips has failed to recognise the differences between Jamaican and American political culture. Let us not get it twisted; Jamaica has a dark and embarrassing political history of violence, victimisation and intimidation.

The US has never had an election where more than 800 people died as a result of political violence. While I do agree with Ms Phillips that our political culture has become more amicable, there still remains an aggressive element in our political climate.

The difference between the US and Jamaica is that it is the owner or renter who puts up political paraphernalia on his/her home, businesses and vehicle.

On the contrary, in Jamaica, our democracy is still in its infancy. In Jamaica, it is area leaders or dons and those associated with criminal elements who usually put up political flags as demarcations. The flags not only act as political zoning but gang zoning and borderlines.

Flags on utility poles intimidate persons into not feeling free to commute between communities. Thus, it is an infringement on the constitutional rights of Jamaicans. Flags have become symbols of political apartheid. Therefore, if I am from a PNP stronghold where flags are placed on the utility poles, my friend who lives in a JLP stronghold community is less inclined to visit my home. Thus, flags do intimidate citizens and foster a culture of political apartheid.

Our utility poles are not owned by the JLP or PNP. Encourage your tribesmen and women to place the flags on their homes.

ONEIL HALL

PhD Candidate, UWI

oneil.hall@hotmail.com