Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Inner-city residents rejecting ‘informer’ culture

Published:Monday | April 29, 2019 | 12:07 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

Tired of having their lives disrupted by crime and violence, some inner-city residents in Montego Bay say they are ready to reject the ‘informer fi dead’ culture and join the fight to rid their communities of gun-toting gangsters.

“During the state of emergency (SOE), I used to go to my bed feeling safe, and it was a welcome relief from the shooting and murders,” a businesswoman who operates in a so-called volatile community in Montego Bay told The Gleaner last Wednesday. The woman, who was speaking against the background of the ongoing police/military crackdown in Norwood and surrounding communities in the aftermath of the shooting and injuring of a policeman on April 21, said she is fearful of the return of the full-fledge lawlessness that once had the community under siege.

The policeman, Constable Sheldon Murray, was shot multiple times and is now recovering in hospital. Two suspects in the shooting, Brandon ‘Cha Cha’ Storer of Paradise Housing Scheme in Norwood and Steve ‘Shane’ Earle, a welder of Hendon, Norwood, have since surrendered to the police.

“Mi nuh know wha wrong with dem likkle youth yah. Dem feel seh a dem a roll thunder,” a resident told The Gleaner. “Dem fi go weh! Dem fi lef de community and don’t come back,” the man said. “Mi waa Norwood fi run like how me si Mount Salem a run. From fi dem bad man dem get run weh when di ZOSO (zone of special operations) start, fi dem place a run nice … no murder nah gwaan and no shot nah fire.”

According to the man, who asked not to be identified, in former times, men with guns were seen as community protectors because they could keep out the troublemakers. He said, too, that while some of them would go out and rob, it was for the money, not to become notorious killers.

“First time, man used to rob fi get money, but today, dem man yah have money and a use gun fi get fame ... a mad people dem! De communities fi unite and inform pon dem,” the man added.

It would appear the police are already benefiting from the steady rejection by resident of the ‘informer culture’. In a recent interview with The Gleaner, Superintendent Vernon Ellis, the commanding officer for St James, admitted that the police are now benefiting from the goodwill forged with residents during the SOE.

Tired of crime

“We have people who are tired of the crime and violence and are cooperating with the police,” said Ellis. “We want other residents to do the same because we need that type of support in our bid to make all communities safe.”

Since 2006, St James has been recording in excess of 100 murders every year. In 2017, the parish recorded 338 murders. The SOE was installed in January 2018 to stop the lawlessness. While the initiative disrupted commercial and social life in some communities, it still enjoyed popular support.

“After one year of peace, mi nuh want no more ‘shotta rule’. Mi waa live in peace,” an inner-city community-college student told The Gleaner. “We have to unite and break the cycle of violence,” he added.