Sat | Mar 28, 2015

Tivoli ballers recount horror

Published:Monday | June 7, 2010

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

"Mi all give up pon life one o' the time dem, 'cause the amount a man mi see dead and the amount a time mi hear say mi a go dead, Jah know, is only the Almighty carry me through this."

These were the words of an obviously shaken Steve Green, as he related the events of his detention during the recent unrest in Tivoli Gardens, west Kingston.

The influential Tivoli Gardens midfielder was among four of the club's footballers who were held by the security forces during the operation which started on Labour Day. As he shared his nightmarish experience with The Gleaner during a recent visit to the community, a few teammates sat nearby with expressionless faces.

They had heard the story before, but it was obvious that they, too, were still rattled by the events.

Green was one of the first to be picked up by the authorities who, he claimed, dragged him into the streets on Monday, May 24, while he was in a friend's house.

"Dem (soldiers) carry us over Tivoli (High) School and have we pon we knee and dem t'ing deh. A pure kick we get and dem t'ing deh."

Green went on to share that after being taken to the school, he was then sent into a bus with other detainees, where they were forced to sit in the passageway with their hands tied behind their backs.

"Dem say we a criminal, so we can't sit pon police seat dem."

The bus stopped at a popular industrial complex along Marcus Garvey Drive where, according to Green, they were forced to sit with their hands still tied behind their backs in less-than-favourable conditions.

"We haffi siddung inna the dirt from night till about 4 a.m. the next day, then dem carry we inna this place wid whole heap a bird filth and pure stone and gravel; and a dat we haffi kneel dung inna," said an animated Green.

"When we wah (urinate) and you tell dem, dem a tell you fi (urinate) inna you clothes 'cause a yours and all dem tings deh. Is a one police did deh pon the scene and tell dem say dem fi tie we hands in front o' we so we can pull we zip and (urinate)."

Green added that they were not given anything to eat or drink until later that night when three bottles of water were provided and had to be shared among more than 60 detainees.

"A the first time me see so much things happen right in front a mi face. All now mi nuh come around," Green said. "It's like me lost; a whole heap o' good friends and good people we see life just get done just like that for no reason at all."

Green's teammate, Owen Powell, was also caught up in the massive dragnet and has his own horror story.

Powell was allegedly taken out of his house in the Denham Town area two days after Green's detention, at gunpoint in front of his two-year-old daughter, mother, babymother and nephew.

He, too, was a picture of fright.

"Mi not even a eat 'cause this thing just deh pon mi mind a way, dem coulda easily kill me too and a dat mi a pree (contemplate)," Powell stated. "It wicked bredda, mi nuh used to dem t'ing yah at all."

Loaded bodies

The towering Powell revealed that he, along with other detainees, was forced to load bodies into a truck under the constant threat of members of the security forces.

"Dem select (prepare to fire) the gun over we head to frighten us and beat us up," he added.

"Dem make we take up dead people, man who swell up and stink. Afterwards, dem carry we over the (business complex on Marcus Garvey Drive) and den over (National) Arena where dem force we fi sleep pon the floor," Powell continued.

His episode lasted for two days and he pointed out that stating, on numerous occasions, that he was a footballer did nothing to prevent mistreatment.

The army and police have urged west Kingston residents to report claims of abuse to complaints desks of the public defender and the police force. More than 500 complaints have been made so far.

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com