Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Two years after National Security Minister Peter Bunting presented what he described as the 'Tivoli Paradigm' to reduce murders under his watch, he has moved to assure residents of west Kingston that he harbours no ill will towards them.
Bunting's characterisation was reportedly in reference to the May 2010 Tivoli Gardens operation to capture the area's strongman, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, that violently claimed the lives of at least 76 persons, but succeeded in reducing crime rates significantly in 2010-2011.
Only days after Bunting piloted the controversial anti-gang bill through the House of Representatives, he stressed that it was not intended to snare either young people of west Kingston or musicians from elsewhere.
"I want to clear up any misunderstandings or [mis]perceptions that persons, generally, or in particular, citizens of west Kingston may have," said Bunting, as he addressed the ceremony to formally open the new police station in the heart of Tivoli Gardens.
The station replaced a security post which was hastily devised after the 2010 operation. Coke had used the premises as his 'presidential' base. The European Union provided $12.7 million to upgrade the building into a full-fledged police station.
Bunting cited a contentious clause that had to do with the music industry in the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act 2014, commonly referred to as the anti-gang bill.
NO ILL WILL
"I have nothing against dancehall music, and I have nothing against any other type of creative expression," asserted Bunting. "However, I am totally against violent lyrics and lyrics that advocate violence against persons or any group of persons in society."
Added Bunting: "Similarly, I want to make it very clear, I have nothing against citizens of Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Fletcher's Land, Hannah Town, Dunkirk, Spoilers, Majesty Gardens."
He asserted: "The same blood that runs through their veins runs through my veins, and I consider them my brothers and sisters."
Added the minister: "What I am opposed to are gangsters, and I am opposed to criminal organisations that impose, through threats of violence, intimidation and violence, their wills on various communities across Jamaica, primarily in the interest of earning illicit profit."
In outlining plans to reduce murders to one per day by 2017, Bunting, in January 2012, told the police force that one of the strategies to be employed in achieving that reduction would be the 'Tivoli Paradigm'.
"Insecurity in Tivoli Gardens has to be balanced up against improved security in the rest of Jamaica," Bunting also stated later that year.
Tivoli Gardens, he said, had become a safe haven for criminals, not only for members of Coke's Shower Posse, but for criminals islandwide.
Bunting was also more conciliatory in his expressions, stressing that no one was born a criminal.
"They are usually victims of abuse and neglect of one type or another, and by the time they are teenagers, they often perpetuate the cycle of abuse and trauma by becoming perpetrators of violence," he said.