Clarifying truce of West Kingston badmen
THE EDITOR, Sir:
In The Gleaner of January 19, 2015, Colin Steer questioned the account which I gave as to the origin of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, and in so doing, also contradicted the date of the Peace Treaty of 1980, and the presence of Claudius Massop at its signing.
Mr Steer stated that the peace treaty between Claudius Massop and Buckie Thompson was signed in 1978 and that Claudius Massop died in 1979, and so was not alive in 1980.
What has caused the problem is the fact that there were two completely different 'peace treaties'. I have had the privilege of seeing the report of the peace treaty of 1978 in The Gleaner of January 11, 1978. (Thanks to The Gleaner's archivist) The differences are obvious:
1. The peace treaty of 1978 was effected by the security forces. The peace treaty of 1980 was effected by the National Committee for Prayer and Reconciliation formed by the churches.
2. The peace treaty of 1978 was only between the two rival political gangs in West Kingston. The peace treaty that preceded the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast involved not only the rival gangs, but also the two main political parties.
3. The treaty of 1978 took place at the intersection of Beeston and Oxford streets. The treaty of 1980 was signed at the Halibethan Church because the National Committee was informed by Father Richard Albert of St Anne's Roman Catholic Church in West Kingston that Claudius Massop was a leader of that church.
4. The treaty of 1978 had nothing to do directly with the general election of 1980. The peace treaty of 1980 was a direct result of the violence associated with the election of 1980, termed the most violent in Jamaica's history. The treaty of 1978 did not last.
It is, therefore, clear that these were two very different peace treaties, although both involved Claudius Massop and Buckie Thompson.
The second problem is, however, more perplexing - the date of Massop's death. It is incomprehensible how Claudius Massop, who was the leader of the JLP faction in the violence of 1980, who conferred with Buckie Thompson before the treaty of 1980 and was a signatory to that treaty at his church in 1980, could have died in 1979. Evidently, a mistake has been made.
As co-chairman of the National Committee, I was present when both men signed the peace treaty. That is how Buckie Thompson was able to recognise me afterwards at the RJR car park and relate to me how Jesus had spoken to him.
The account which I gave of God being at work is absolutely true. The National Prayer Breakfast began in 1981.
EARL THAMES (Rev)