Peter Wray, Contributor
For the record, let me state that I have never been arrested or charged for any offence. I have never had to attend a police station for questioning in relation to any matter. I have never had to attend court in relation to any criminal matter whatsoever.
I have, however, having owned my own vehicle since 1980, been ticketed twice for driving above the speed limit in a 50mph zone. I have never been found in contravention of any other aspect of the Road Traffic Act. I make stern effort to operate within the confines of the law at all times. Even good citizens may sometimes find themselves in the category of lawbreakers at times. While that is not an acceptable argument that one should be forgiven for running afoul of the law at any time, my two speeding tickets over close to 30 years of operating a motor vehicle in Jamaica does suggest, at the very least, that I am not a habitual lawbreaker and that I pose no clear and present danger to society.
Nevertheless, as a dreadlocked Rastafarian since 1977, I have, on many occasions, been the subject of unwarranted, unprovoked and unjust verbal and physical abuse at the hands of members of the security forces, more particularly the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Some of these men and women, clearly my 'junior' in age, have unfortunately misunderstood the status vested in them by virtue of the constitutional power they wield. represented in the uniform they wear, to mean 'seniority'.
Consequently, on many occasions, they have been downright rude and out of order, in the exercise of their duty, and so, with guns aimed dangerously in my direction, have many times distastefully ordered, "Bway, cum outta de vehicle." It is possible that on one of those occasions, a nervous finger on the trigger of one of their high-powered weapons might easily have resulted in my demise, and you guessed correctly, the likely story would have been "there was a shoot-out".
It is easy for me, therefore, based on my personal experience, to believe and accept that many of the reports of incidents of so-called shoot-outs between police and 'gunmen' have been conveniently falsified to cover up what is, quite likely, blatant murder on the part of our men and women in uniform.
Policing in Jamaica, I know, is not an easy job. There are dangerous criminals among us who will, without an iota of remorse, snuff out the lives of lawmen and law-abiding citizens at the blink of an eye.
However, in the same way that members of the security forces would not want to be lumped together and labelled as licensed killers because few among them do not uphold the law as they are sworn to, so too, law-abiding citizens, regardless of personal expression of religious, cultural, political or other freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution, would wish to be accorded the respect they deserve and, indeed, rightfully demand that the respect they show to our men and women in uniform is reciprocated.
The statistics seem to support the view that extrajudicial killings by the security forces in Jamaica, in most cases, go unpunished. This is so for reasons best known to those responsible for investigating and unearthing evidence that can, in a court of law convict, lawmen who are lawbreakers, because they use deadly force where it is unwarranted.
Statistics also seem to support the view that most murderers in our society are either not caught or, if caught, are freed either because inept investigators fail to properly provide prosecutorial evidence which is irrefutable, or because eyewitnesses, fearful of repercussions, do not attend court to provide critical testimony.
'BADMANISM' HURTING US
The larger problem, however, is the fact that, as a society, we fail to communicate with each other in ways that promote peaceful and harmonious relationships. Ample example of disharmony, disrespect for each other, and veiled 'badmanism' is regularly displayed by our parliamentarians. The same is true among some of our popular deejays and evident in the indiscipline exhibited by some motorists on our roads.
We all must begin to treat each other in ways that are underpinned by a sense of civility and decency, doing unto others as we would have them do to us.
It is worth reminding ourselves of something an 18th-century English writer, Mary Montagu, said: "Civility costs nothing and buys everything," or closer home, Bob Marley's positive affirmation: "We Jah people can make it work, come together and make it work."
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