Family upset after Rastafarian teen trimmed allegedly at police station
Tameka Gordon/Senior Staff Reporter
Once again, police personnel have been accused of infringing on the rights of a member of the Rastafarian faith, the latest being the alleged trimming of a 19-year-old woman who was held at the Four Paths Police Station in Clarendon a few days ago.
The incident comes as Jamaica celebrates 183 years of emancipation and with many Jamaicans expressing the view that they do not feel the mental shackles of the country's colonial past have been eradicated.
The woman, Nzinga King, and her mother, Shirley McIntosh, have put out a video detailing what they claim occurred at the police station and have called for the intervention of Prime Minister Andrew Holness as they believe King's religious and humans rights were violated.
McIntosh told The Gleaner that her daughter was held at the police station from Thursday, July 22 to Monday, July 26.
She said that the ordeal arose from an incident that occurred a few weeks prior while King was on her way home from nursing school.
“She was in a taxi [and] there was a young man in the taxi who wasn't wearing any mask and they [the police] were trying to get him out of the taxi…until he punched one of them,” according to McIntosh.
“The policeman resorted to pepper stray…and that started a heated argument between she [daughter] and the police officer,” an upset McIntosh said.
At the end of it, King was charged with disorderly conduct on July 22 and placed before the court.
Both mother and daughter contend that while being processed to be placed in a cell, King was trimmed by a female corporal.
Upon paying the fine ordered by the court, McIntosh went to collect King from the police station.
“When me go for the little girl me ah seh how dem ah take so long to bring her out. The policewoman say 'see the little girl there'. Me ah seh this can't be the little girl because my daughter has locks so I don't know who this little girl [is]. Dem cut off her hair, bald off her locks and she looked like someone that was mad,” the mother said.
“She told me the corporal cut off her locks and I asked her what the inspector woman said,” McIntosh remarked, recounting that a female inspector was also on duty when her daughter was taken to the station.
“She said when the lady [corporal] brought her to the bathroom and she was there for a while. The inspector came to see what was happening. When the inspector opened the door and saw what was happening, she asked her [the corporal] 'Why you cutting the little girl hair? Who gave her permission?' And she said the woman [corporal] only hissed her teeth,” McIntosh claimed.
“I asked her if she didn't resist and she said when she asked the corporal why she was cutting her hair…the woman just spin her round and tell her to stop chat and finish cutting off the rest of her hair,” McIntosh said.
Head of the police's Area Three Assistant Commissioner, Michael Smith, told The Gleaner the matter is being investigated.
“I was made aware of the information through social media. We have to do our investigations to concretise whether or not something has happened and we are awaiting the feedback from the investigation,” he said.
Pressed on whether the act of processing an individual entails any physical element that would see the person being showered or shaved, Smith said, “the procedure is that when someone is taken into custody they are processed to ensure that safety and security is maintained [and] the things that are not to go inside the cells are not brought there. When that process is completed the person is placed in a cell,” he said.
Head of the police's Corporate Communications Unit Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay also gave a cautious response to the same question, stating that the situation depends on what amenities are available at the police station.
“I don't know that shaving is a part of it [the standard protocol]. If you have the facility they can be showered or [get to] wash their hair,” Lindsay said.
“Because of COVID-19, in order to protect inmates that are already in custody, sanitation is a big part of what happens,” Lindsay said.
Asked whether the female corporal has been suspended to facilitate the investigation, she said, “no action would have been taken [as yet].”
Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.