Diary of the ghetto priest | Violence! I cry for my Island
This man loves Jamaica. He shares this love for Jamaica without reserve. David explained that the numbers of over 600 murdered in Jamaica over the past six months is for real, and, he added, there are many who have been seriously wounded.
The brothers all work in the inner city covering areas that are inhabited by the two political parties.
"It is not party politics so much as turf wars. There are dons. They own their own turf and want to expand. Politics are still involved, but it has gotten beyond that. People change political affiliations, but it's really territories where drugs circulate, and power is established by weapons and those who own them in a drugs-for-guns exchange. Plenty ganja deh bout, plenty, plenty, plenty, plenty. And everybody is involved in the drugs - little man, big man, politicians, businessmen. What to do? It bigger than you or me, and bigger than the community in the ghettoes." This is all explained by David, a friend from the South Side.
DEATH OF AN ANGEL
One of our little girls called Angel, only 11 years old, was shot and killed last week by stray bullets. But there is a lot of drive-by killings happening. The brothers and I hear the shooting at night. We are overcome by sadness at night. We call the police, we do not know if they respond, but we cannot go out on the street lest we be shot in the dark of night by some stray bullet.
"People do not aim at anyone definitely anymore. Cars, gangs, individuals just point towards a section where somebody or many people might be and just shoot," said David.
The violence that is plaguing the community of South Side, Wildman Street, Rae Town, Majestic Gardens and Delham Town has escalated. When rival gangs shoot into an area such as ours, the don of the area orders his gang of young men to come together. Last Thursday, a don called Chicki found out that some men from Fleet Street came down the street. Chicki and his friends armed themselves and went in pursuit of the men. When they reached the housing scheme built up by government on Fleet Street, they climbed over the wall around the scheme and entered the housing. They came upon their opponents by surprise and they pounced on each other. They were at close quarters with each other. Some grabbed at each other physically, others with guns started shooting at each other wildly.
When the shooting stopped, five people had gotten shot. One of the gang members from Fleet Street died. Other young men got shot and injured, three of them had to go to the hospital at Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) - Brian, O'Shane, and Javarny. Then two days later, three more men were shot in a reprisal. One died, and two were wounded and are in the hospital.
WHY CAN'T WE STOP IT?
Over $400,000 is spent on bullet wounds each day, dollars that could have been spent on food.
The saddest thing is that since the 1970s gang warfare began, many innocent people are victims. It has discouraged everybody, Jamaicans and people overseas. Why, in a small island like ours, have we not been able to stop it? Why are people so fearful of telling the truth of these killers? We bleed and bleed in our nation just like Jesus on the cross for the innocent and their families, as well as for the entire nation that cannot do anything but continue to live in fear.
What a beautiful island, and what a beautiful people. It seems that the violence will not stop because with all the random shooting and purposeful shooting, there is no human way of intervening.
Mr Peter Bunting, former Minister of National Security, seems right! This requires divine intervention. Only a power beyond the natural, in addition to a plan of great courage without human interference can break the bondage or slavery that has now enslaved us.
Last Sunday we prayed for Angel, the little 11-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet. Poor little soul, she was quiet and sweet. She came to Bethlehem on Sundays for catechetical classes. She went over to Faith Center on Laws Street to visit and comfort our homeless people. She was truly an Angel.
"Hello, Angel, are you up there? Is it nice up there? Are you with the angels and saints? What is our Good Father in heaven like?"
At Mass, we asked her all these questions. She seemed to answer: "I am happier up here, Father. It's much better up here. I pray for you and all the people, Father. Keep on singing, praising, doing your good works. That's all that matters!"
All the people in the chapel answered "Amen!"