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Illegal gun salutes trigger event permit suspension in some Clarendon areas

Published:Monday | March 13, 2023 | 1:12 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer

Illegal gun salutes are among the factors triggering a suspension of the granting of permits for entertainment events in more than a dozen Clarendon communities.

The move came after a man was taken into custody and his licensed firearm seized after a widely circulated video showed him pulling the weapon and discharging several rounds into the air at a party in the mid-island parish last month.

The disclosure was made by Deputy Superintendent Anton-Gur Cardoza, who heads operations in the Clarendon Police Division, during the monthly sitting of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation last Thursday.

“Our intel is that it is not the only or the first incident of this kind. We cannot, as a division and as a management team, allow these things to happen within the space,” said Cardoza.

The barred communities include Palmers Cross, Free Town, Sandy Bay, Cow Pen in Frankfield, York Town, Rocky Point, Havannah Heights, and Cherry Tree Lane.

The police have been denying requests for permits to host entertainment events in the listed communities since February 27, and the ban will remain until July 1.

When contacted, Denton Atkins, president of the Clarendon Promoters’ Association, said he would reserve comments until he has had further meetings with the police.

Six people, including a police officer, were shot and injured at an event in Palmers Cross last month. A businessman was also killed in the community on Sunday.

The police say there has been an increase in criminal activities in the Palmers Cross area, which prompted the imposition of a 48-hour curfew in the community in February.

Some councillors, however, have opposed the move, saying it will disrupt livelihoods.

The councillors contended that many residents were generating their main income from events such as round robins and cake sales.

The Mocho area in north-central Clarendon is also named among the blacklisted communities. Cardoza said this community was included given already existing challenges to police that area.

Councillor Romaine Morris, who heads the Mocho Division, however, said this would disrupt the economy of the rural area and destabilise families.

“With the Mocho Division being blacklisted, it affects the economy of Mocho. Most of the people in the Mocho division, this is their livelihood, and when their livelihood is disrupted, it creates [other problems]. You have persons who are farmers and other persons who do their little drink-outs, and that is how they sustain their families, and that is my biggest problem coming from this,” said Morris.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Councillor Collin Henry of the Thompson Town Division, who said the move was unfair, questioning on what premise his division had been included.

“Given the fact that it’s a relatively calm community. We haven’t had much flare-ups and all of that,” said Henry.

“The innocent people who want to keep their cake sale and their drink-out have suffered greatly from this decision,” he added.

Responding to the concerns, Cardoza said: “It is by no means our intention to disrupt the livelihoods of people, but right now, we are in the business of saving lives.”

Up to March 5, the parish had seen a 137.5 per cent increase in murders, with a total of 19 murders compared to eight homicides over the 2022 corresponding period.

Cardoza said that disputes arising from the illegal gun salutes could have resulted in lives being lost “and that is what we are trying to prevent at this time”.