Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Where the PMI was effective

Published:Friday | March 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Killing Streets and Community Revival, authored by Horace Levy, member of the mediation group Peace Management Initiative.
Horace Levy, member of the mediation group Peace Management Initiative.
Community leaders and strongmen commit to an August Town truce under nightfall at the University of the West Indies Bowl on Tuesday, June 24, 2008. - File
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The following is the sixth excerpt from the recently published book Killing Streets and Community Revival, authored by Horace Levy, member of the mediation group Peace Management Initiative. See the final excerpt in tomorrow's Gleaner.

As ... the following table sets out, the PMI had best results, i.e. ceasefires passing into peace sustained over a reasonably lengthy time, in those communities and areas on which it was able to focus personnel and development initiatives intensively over a prolonged period. The numbers were arrived at by interviewing knowledgeable individuals, singly in some cases, in others by bringing together a group comprising representatives of the different sections or corners of a community who would identify by name those killed and the circumstances.

These sources of the information attested that it is very likely that not all killed have been remembered. As the table below shows, the PMI was active in Dunkirk in the last few months of 2004 with no evident effect in 2005 but a dramatic turnaround in 2006 and later a council embracing some six different sections was formed; in Mountain View from July 2003, after eight homicides; in Rock Hall from October 2002, after seven homicides; in Jones Town/Torrington from the end of March 2007, but it took several months before the full impact of its presence was felt.

Even where some homicides continued to occur in 2007 and 2008 - as in Majesty Gardens - for the first five months, in Jones Town from April to July, or in Duhaney Park where outsiders killed two, what the table cannot record was the end of nightly shooting and intergroup feuding. This meant an entirely different climate for the community.

(See table 2)

Also, not captured in the table are the inputs of the communities themselves and of the police. It was clear from the moment that the PMI set foot in Jones Town that the people of the community wanted the three-year war with its over 60 (at that point, 70 eventually) killings, "to done". Thus PMI's task was to facilitate the process of bringing it to an end. In Duhaney Park, a telephone conversation ... was what did the trick: over the phone the two gangs decided on a joint walk, and so said, so done.

Another factor was police activity, including the arrest or killing of wanted criminals, ... for example, in Dunkirk in 2006, the killing of the notorious Dellibop. Mountain View illustrates starkly ongoing party politics in the garrison ... . Internal conflict in [one section], incipient from 2005 ... but sharpened by party politics in 2006-07, led to the huge homicidal increase recorded above.

Renewed political forces

PMI-originating, resource-limited achievements were simply not sufficient to withstand deeply imbedded and renewed partisan political forces ... . A most interesting outcome of PMI efforts to date was the peace agreement reached in August Town in late June 2008. This was a formally signed document, the first of its kind for the PMI and perhaps for Jamaica, between the five 'corners', formerly at each other's throats ... . The suggestion to have such a signing ... came actually from the leader of one of the corners ... . To date, several months later, the agreement in August Town is holding, blips, tensions and threats notwithstanding ... .

Giving much hope for success in August Town is the ongoing project of the adjoining University of the West Indies (UWI) to make it into a 'university town', in essence ... a major community-building initiative. ... A serious upgrading of basic schools has begun. Members of a homeowners' association are to get loans from a building society to add rooms that can be rented to university students in need of lodging - in effect another 'hall of residence' for UWI. A women's group is working with the ... primary schools in the area ... . A citizen-police crime-prevention committee has been meeting ... . Also in place ... is a sports programme under the aegis of the August Town Sport Foundation.

'Killing Streets and Community Revival' is available at major book stores. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com or editor@gleanerjm.com.

Table 2

Results of PMI interventions

COMMUNITY20012002200320042005200620072008 Sep

Duhaney Park00010 (pop. est. Aver 2100)age 2 per year

Dunkirk 517 712 Franklin Twn (pop. 12,900)

Jones Town & Torrington Pk 1117 21227 (pop. 2 10,200) but onlyafter July

Majestic Gardens105 48 (pop. 1567) Mountain View13810 25102411 (pop. est.10,000) Rock Hall10000000 (pop. est. 1,000) Woodford Park95 51320? (pop. 2,750)

(Note: 1. Population figures are from the 2001 Census unless estimates are indicated. 2. Bold figures indicate that the PMI was active in the community represented by that row, for at least a part of the year of that column.)

LEvy