Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
The body of a young man lay in the centre of the church where grief-stricken family and friends gathered to pay their respects, all the time expressing hope that justice would be swift for the life taken by a policeman's bullet.
It's a script that has been played out several times in many inner-city communities, and yesterday, the scene was no different in Jarrett Lane, off Mountain View Avenue, where the funeral for Kavorn Shue was being held.
Shue was shot and killed last month when police invaded his home in the same community where they were allegedly in search of wanted men.
The official police report stated that Shue, the president of the Mountain View Police Youth Club, was killed in a shoot-out. However, residents have strongly refuted the claim saying he was an upstanding young man in the community who stayed away from wrongdoing.
As family and friends gathered at the Episcopal Baptist Church in the community yesterday to give tributes in words and song, there was one central theme: that of a young man who harboured hope of one day elevating himself out of a community where the gun is the quickest option for youth his age.
His ticket out
He saw the police force as his ticket out, and it was a dream he shared with many around him.
"Many of the days these words would always leave his mouth, 'Lisa, wi a go mek it, innuh. Yeah, man! Wi a go look back on dem days yah and laugh'," Alicia Grant recalled as she shared the story of how in happier days they both held on to hopes of joining the force.
Grant remembered Shue mostly for his motivating words, adding that "they would always put a smile on any dampened situation life throws at you.
"We both went ahead and start the process and I got my call before him. His untimely death prevented him from accomplishing his dream, but I made it into the force, and as such, I will serve, protect, and reassure the people of this nation in his honour," Grant shared, while fighting back tears.
Yesterday, programmes manager at Youth Upliftment Through Employment, Melissa Johnson, described Shue as a young man who displayed exemplary skills and talents, and one who was committed to continued self-improvement.
But amid the glowing tributes that engulfed the church yesterday, the anger from many of his colleagues could not be hushed as some used the opportunity to call for the police to apologise for his killing. Others spoke quietly about their deep-rooted hatred and lack of trust in the police.
"We strongly believe that if the Jamaica Constabulary Force come out publicly and say, 'we are really sorry', this would do a whole lot for the community and the youth clubs. The general youth club is really calling for this and they need to show some compassion," said Dei-rasi Freckleton, who is the national president of the police youth clubs.
Freckleton also expressed concern about the status of the investigation.
"Since the initial statement, we have not heard anything else from the police, so we are concerned that this (investigation) might be drawn out for years," he said.