THE EDITOR, Sir:
Just after midnight on Sunday, February 20, 2011, four police pickups and a van normally used to transport prisoners descended on the only gay club along the Hip Strip in Montego Bay. About 20 heavily armed policemen jumped from the vehicles, aggressively accosting patrons, kicking in doors, beating and pistol-whipping indiscriminately, and chasing everyone from the venue.
All the while, the officers hurled homophobic slurs which encouraged patrons of other clubs nearby to join in the melee by throwing bottles, stones and other missiles as individuals fled for their lives.
One patron described it as a mob scene, and another who asked a policeman, "If this is how you, as a law-enforcement officer, treat us, how do you expect other people to behave?" was rewarded with several kicks for his effrontery. He later took refuge for several hours in an abandoned building.
At least 10 persons were reported to have been treated at hospital for injuries sustained during the raid, while others decided to nurse their wounds at home.
This latest attack follows a similar one in Kingston in early February when police, not wearing badges, raided a gay club, pointing guns at patrons and shining powerful flashlights in their faces. On neither occasion did police disclose the purpose of the raids, but they clearly have one intent, namely, to intimidate and remind lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex individuals that their kind is not welcome in Jamaica, and they certainly don't have the right to assemble and socialise peacefully.
I am, etc.,
Montego Bay, St James