Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Mario Deane’s mom protests for justice six years on

Published:Monday | August 3, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Mercia Fraser (right), the mother of Mario Deane, holds up a banner bearing his image with help from a supporter outside the Barnett Street Police Station in Montego Bay, St James on Monday, August 3, 2020, the sixth anniversary of his beating while in custody at the facility in 2014. Deane died three days later – Christopher Thomas photo

Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer 

Six years after Mario Deane died from his injuries following a beating he received while in police custody in 2014, his mother, Mercia Fraser, is determined never to give up seeking justice for her son, even if she is alone in her fight.

“As long as I don’t get closure, I will still be coming here. People will pass by and say things, and people will always promise me that they are coming out and then they do not come, but whether or not somebody comes, I will still come out here, even if I stand alone,” Fraser told The Gleaner on Monday as she and one other supporter stood with a banner in remembrance of her son outside the Barnett Street Police Station in Montego Bay.

Although Fraser did not have a crowd of supporters with her on this occasion, passers-by made sure to encourage her in her six-year-old crusade.

“I like how you stick out for your son. Dem too wicked,” one woman briefly said to  Fraser, while examining the banner which bore Deane’s image.

Deane, 31, was beaten on August 3, 2014, while in custody at the Barnett Street lock-up for possession of a ganja spliff, and died three days after at the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

His death attracted major local and international attention and was partly responsible for the debate that led to the decriminalisation of small quantities of ganja by the Jamaican Parliament.

Last Thursday, inmates Marvin Orr and Adrian Morgan, who were in custody with Deane at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in relation to his death in the St James Circuit Court.

READ: Mario Deane trial verdict bittersweet moment for his mom

They had previously been charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge after being deemed fit to plead.

A day later, Judge Glen Brown sentenced Orr and Morgan, who both suffer from mental challenges, to five years and six months in prison.

However, he ordered that they should be released, on the grounds that they had been in custody since 2014 and had therefore already served the sentence.

Three cops, Corporal Elaine Stewart and Constables Juliana Clevon and Marlon Grant, were arrested and charged with manslaughter, misconduct in a public office, and perverting the course of justice in relation to Deane’s death.

They are to stand trial on September 21.

While blaming the police for her son’s death, Fraser admitted that the police have given mixed responses to her yearly peaceful protest in front of the police station.

“You will have different responses from the police, but I think most of them are cooperative. There was one time when a police jeep came along here, and we held the banner up to the wall, and they said to take it down or else they are going to take it away, but most of them are cooperative,” said Fraser.

“They will come out and look, and they do not mess with us. Because we are quiet, not making any noise, then it should not be a problem.”

Meanwhile, Jamaicans for Justice Executive Director Rodje Malcolm says the human rights group is standing by Fraser in her quest for justice.

“Mercia Fraser has been standing for six years to demand justice. She has refused to be silenced, despite harassment and intimidation. With the trial of the accused police officers still to unfold, her journey continues and we will continue to support her to secure justice for Mario Deane,” said Malcolm.

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