...the heart of covenant, a bid for peace
On the morning of Sunday, April 11, 2010, the volatile Rose Heights community in Montego Bay, St. James, made a profound statement against lawlessness in a bold fight for peace and stability.
The previous night, the fragile peace they had been guarding zealously had been breached. In contravention of the tenets of the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace (RHCP), gunshots were heard coming from a section of the community.
At daybreak, senior members of RHCP met and took a decision that the person who fired the shots must be found, apprehended and turned over to the police.
A group, comprising mostly young men, was dispatched to find the culprit.
The search led the men to a house of an ex-convict known as 'Gilligan.' During a search of the house, they found two illegal guns and a quantity of ammunition. The group seized the weapons and an ammunition, effecting a citizens arrest. 'Gilligan' was turned over to the police.
"I have challenged the community to work with me to establish peace and they have responded," said pastor Knollis King, shortly after 'Gilligan' was apprehended.
"I think I have buried more than 100 young men, who have been killed senselessly in my years ministering here in Rose Heights, and it must stop."
Gilligan's arrest was like a special message to the community, making it clear that those who had a penchant for lawlessness were not welcomed and the preferred option was to embrace the social-intervention programmes designed to bring peace.
"We have to applaud the residents of Rose Heights because they have decided to make a difference," Assistant Commissioner of Police Denver Frater, who was in charge of St James at the time, told The Gleaner.
"My hope is that the various agencies will move in and assist them to maintain the peace. We stand ready to work with the community to ensure a lasting peace."
The 'covenant of peace,' which was as sacred as the Bible to those who embraced the RHCP, had the following tenets:
- No shootings
- No murders
- No break-ins
- No robberies
- No child abuse
- Every child must go to school