By Glenroy Sinclair, Staff Reporter
Matthews Lane area leader Donald 'Zeeks' Phipps (centre) and residents display 'peace flags' as they outline their commitment to peace yesterday. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
MATTHEWS LANE area leader, Donald 'Zeeks' Phipps, and his counterpart from Tivoli Gardens, Justin O'Gilvie, gave their word yesterday that the long-standing peace pact between residents in both communities will remain intact.
Both men were speaking against the background of the outbreak of gun violence in downtown Kingston Saturday afternoon in which five persons were killed and 13 others hospitalised with gunshot wounds.
They gave their assurance that the area was now calm and nothing more would happen to disrupt commercial activities in downtown Kingston for the rest of the year.
Matthews Lane, a small enclave in the West Kingston constituency, has long been aligned to the governing People's National Party (PNP) and Tivoli Gardens is the Jamaica Labour
Party (JLP) stronghold in the constituency. Both Messrs. Phipps and O'Gilvie insisted that Saturday's shooting was not related to political rivalry. According to Mr. Phipps, Saturday's incident was the result of a "misunderstanding".
"Rival men came face to face with each other and began firing shots," he told The Gleaner yesterday. "Election over now. All of us are Jamaicans. A just peace we a deal with," said Mr. Phipps.
According to Detective Inspector Danilo McLeish of the Kingston Central CIB, three of the victims have been identified as Ricardo Brown of Tivoli Gardens, West Kingston; Dennis Facey of a Waterhouse, Olympic Gardens address, and Andel Beckford of Pembroke Hall, St. Andrew.
"Ten of the injured persons are still hospitalised and three have been released," said Det. Insp. McLeish.
SIGNS FOR PEACE
Mr. Phipps pointed to a string of multi-coloured flags tied onto two utility poles that read: "Peace" and "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God," and emphasised that the residents of Matthews Lane were committed to maintaining peace.
When asked if he believed the residents of Tivoli Gardens were also committed to the peace, Mr. Phipps took out his cellular phone and called Mr. O'Gilvie, then handed the phone to a member of The Gleaner news team to ask the question. Mr. O'Gilvie, a businessman in West Kingston, stressed that since the shootings on Saturday, there had been no retaliation, a gesture which demonstrated that "the peace" had not broken.
In the meantime, it was business as usual in downtown Kingston yesterday as the shutters of stores were up and the business district buzzed with activity. There was not a strong police presence.