Children Among those Severely Affected in West Kingston Flare-Up
As tension mounts in the wake of ongoing gang warfare in west Kingston, residents are hopeful that a peace walk slated for Emancipation Day, on Saturday, will bring about some calm.
The community has seen a flare-up of gun violence in recent weeks, resulting in the deaths of more than 10 persons, including Constable Lynden Barrett of the Denham Town Police Station. He was gunned down on Wellington Street in Denham Town last week.
Cecila Palmer, a resident of Tivoli Gardens, told The Gleaner that the past couple months have presented a dismal outlook. She quickly pointed out, however, that they were hopeful.
"We need peace. It is frustrating and we want change. The children, especially, are feeling the effects because they are on holiday and they have to be on the inside. Children are to enjoy their childhood. Children should be able to play freely but this (crime) is a big hindrance," she said.
"People are scared and frustrated because you just don't know when and what will happen. You can be coming in from work or from the supermarket and shots start firing. We are not daunted though, I am hopeful that we will see some changes going forward," Palmer said.
Residents of Denham Town, Tivoli Gardens, and Rose Town are expected to participate in the peace walk, which will be the second of its kind in west Kingston. The first was held in 2014 on Emancipation Day.
Activities will include prayer at designated areas which are considered hotspots. There will be a time of fellowship, with musical items by guest performers.
'Taking Back Our Comm-unity' is the mission statement of the West Kingston Planning Committee, which has planned this walk, and which is supported by Peace and Love in Society (PALS) in various ways.
Janilee Abrikian, general manager for PALS, told The Gleaner that it will take collaborative effort to bring about some semblance of peace in the constituency. However, she remains optimistic.
"Based on our observation and work on the ground, there is a lot of frustration and residents are just sick and tired," she said.
"We want to take them on a journey, however, where they are able to restructure their thoughts, where it doesn't matter who is the member of parliament, or who is in power. Instead, they will see the need to be responsible and play their part as residents in ensuring that the next generation can have a bright future," Abrikian said.