Sun | May 28, 2023

Say, 'Yeh, wi sorry' - Tivoli residents want personal apologies from Golding, Saunders, Ellington

Published:Thursday | June 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett
Anita Williams, a 90-year-old resident of Tivoli Gardens, reacts to the report of the West Kingston Commission.
Philip Lester, resident of Tivoli Gardens, sits in what remains of his shop that was destroyed during the 2010 police-military operation in the community.

A resident of Tivoli Gardens has singled out former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, retired army chief Major General Stewart Saunders, and former Police Commissioner Owen Ellington as the individuals who should personally apologise to the people of west Kingston for the actions of the security forces during the May 2010 operations.

A report by the Office of the Public Defender found that 74 civilians and one member of the Jamaica Defence Force were killed in the operations that were aimed at capturing drug lord Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Philip Lester, a 58-year-old resident of Chang Avenue, believes Golding, Saunders, and Ellington should specifically apologise "for what they cause to happen to the people" of his community.

"Not what they did, because dem never come do it. Dem send the (security) forces come do it," Lester told The Gleaner yesterday.

"They were the persons instrumental behind what was going on, so those are the people we waa hear dem say, 'Yeh, wi sorry'," said the Tivoli Gardens resident.

"The people dem who were in charge of the operations, those people deal wid us in such a way dat it come in like wi were all criminals and they were proven wrong, so they can come out now and mek dem redress," Lester continued.

His suggestion came a day after the three-member tribunal that investigated the conduct of the operations recommended, among other things, that the Government apologise to the residents of west Kingston in the nation's Parliament.

Most residents, however, were not interested in an apology.

Delloris Thompson broke down in tears as she recounted her split-second decision to "throw" her two small children over a wall as she and other family members - including her then 84-year-old grandmother - tried desperately to escape a raging fire that engulfed their home during the operation.

"Mi a sey if mi a go dead ... ," she said, beginning to explain her actions before the tears came streaming down her cheeks.

The long-time Tivoli Gardens resident said an apology would mean "nothing" to her.

"They not going to come out and apologise to the people dem of west Kingston," she predicted.




And even if the Government offered an apology, she said that would not change anything.

"It still nuh bring back nutten. When mi come out (of her house) and si dead men, mi feel sorry fi some a di people," Thompson said.

For a majority of residents, their interest was focused on another recommendation by the Sir David Simmons-led commission: that they be compensated for injuries and damage to their personal belongings.

Residents complained that they have struggled financially since the operation and indicated that they would welcome some form of assistance from the Government.

Ninety-year-old Anita Williams claimed her home, on Kirkpatrick Path, was completely destroyed by mortars.

Williams, who is more popularly known as 'Miss Sissy', told The Gleaner that she lost "every God thing mi work fa inna mi life".

"Mi eyeglass, mi teeth (dentures) ... all now mi can't buy back a teeth and a glasses," she revealed.

"Memba, enuh, a night, suh you tek out yuh teeth put inna water ... and di run weh I run, mi not even memba seh mi have teeth pan di dresser," said Miss Sissy, explaining how she lost her dentures.

"Mi care bout it (apology) and mi woulda glad fi dat to, but right now, mi nuh tink dem can pay mi fi wha mi lose," she added.