Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Most upsetting ... MAJ decries pepper-spraying of photo journalist

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 11:12 AM
Screen grab taken from video footage of a brawl between members of the public and the police.

The Media Association of Jamaica has described as “most upsetting” the pepper-spraying of a Gleaner photo journalist by the police.

In a release this morning, chairman of the Media Association of Jamaica, Christopher Barnes joined calls by the Press Association of Jamaica for a speedy investigation into the matter.

 “The MAJ also calls for a statement of reassurance that the leadership of the Jamaica Constabulary Force believes in and supports freedom of our journalists to carry out their work on behalf of the Jamaican people,” Barnes said.

He said a free press demands that journalists be allowed to carry out their work without threat, intimidation or physical harm. 

READ: IOC to investigate pepper -spraying incident

Photo journalist Rudolph Brown was pepper-sprayed in Cross Roads, Kingston, on Tuesday as he tried to capture images of the police arrest of a man, reportedly for littering.

Brown reported that while in the Cross Roads area, he witnessed a commotion, apparently caused by attempts by the police to arrest a man.

He says he started to use his phone to record the incident and on being told to stop by a police sergeant he clearly identified himself as a member of the media.

Brown says he continued to record the proceedings and heard the police sergeant tell a constable to pepper spray him.

He says the police constable sprayed the substance directly into his eyes, causing him severe pain and distress.

According to Brown, the pepper-spraying caused bystanders to become irate with some decrying the actions of the police.

He said the police then arrested a protesting student and attempted to arrest others including a man who ran leaving behind his infant daughter.

A video of the incident shows a policeman hanging on to the arm of the child before the man returned demanding the release of his child.

That’s when a tug-of-war ensued between the police and the man over the screaming child.

The video also shows a woman engaging the policeman over the way he was handling the child.

At that point, a policewoman intervened and used a baton to push away the woman.