Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
Noting that she and her team were fed up with having to respond to the violent deaths of children, a senior social worker and member of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) yesterday pleaded with residents in and around Allman Town in Kingston to "hold it down".
"Think about it. Mek wi reason it out," said the senior social worker, Berthlyn Plummer, who was attending the funeral of four-year-old Rushawn Burford.
"You have the Dispute Resolution (Foundation) office at South Camp Road. Call somebody and hold it down. It cannot go on like this. I am tired and our team is tired to be running, especially to children's deaths."
Rushawn was shot and killed on the morning of January 31 following a dispute between members of his family and a man identified as Marlon McMillan.
Police have fingered McMillan, otherwise called Shooty, as the killer. He remains on the run.
Yesterday, Plummer told the gathering at the jam-packed Salvation Army Church, located along Prince of Wales Street in Allman Town, that the tragedy was a stark reminder for them to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
She said the PMI, along with various other institutions, was more than willing to help individuals settle disputes and urged them to utilise the different channels available.
"The last time we were here, we had to deal with a double tragedy. We worked with community members, we worked with many families, just hoping that we would have people who are able to talk things out," she said.
"We now feel that we have been running around too much and it's hurtful when it's adults, but (more so) when you have to attend a child's funeral this morning whose life has been taken away," she said.
However, some minutes after she had finished cautioning the residents, policemen on the outside of the church had their hands full trying to settle a heated argument between the mother of the deceased and family members of the child's father.
In the meantime, Sergeant Coleridge Minto, national coordinator for the Safe Schools Programme, used the occasion to plead with residents to speak out against acts of violence.
Minto described the incident which led to the Rushawn's death as a "great injustice".
"When we get to a state where our children are being murdered in the way that this has played out, it is time for us to do more than just sit in our homes and be quiet," he said.
"We cannot recover the life of our young brother here, but we can ensure that we do what is reasonable and justified to ensure that we protect the other children that remain and ensure that justice is served."
Minto assured residents that the police would be working feverishly to bring the killer to justice.
"We will not stop until we find the person responsible, but we cannot do it without the citizens of this nation, so we ask that those who have information to feel free to pass on that information," he added.