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Public Defender calls for gov't to apologise to Rastafarians for 1963 Coral Gardens incident

Published:Friday | December 11, 2015 | 12:22 AM
Public Defender, Arlene Harrison Henry made the disclosure yesterday at a meeting of the St James Parish council where she outlined the contents of her office's report into the incident.

The Office of the Public Defender has recommended that the Government apologise to Rastafarians who were unjustly treated in the 1963 Coral Gardens incident in Montego Bay, St James.

Public Defender, Arlene Harrison Henry made the disclosure yesterday at a meeting of the St James Parish council where she outlined the contents of her office's report into the incident. 

She said Rastafarians were subjected to discrimination, denigration and scorn, and called for an apology and compensation to those who suffered unjustly.

The Public Defender said her office is also recommending that the ministries responsible for culture and tourism establish a centre specifically for the development and preservation of Rastafari culture.

The 1963 incident reportedly stemmed from an old incident in which a Rastafarian sympathiser, Rudolf Franklin, was shot and seriously injured by a property owner in a dispute over lands.

Franklin and others decided to exact revenge by burning down a gas station. That incident caused a massive government crackdown against Rastafarians.

The Public Defender said the probe found that many Rastafarians - some of whom were not taken into custody - had to trim their dreadlocks and their beards to avoid being taken into custody and to avoid prosecution.