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Tivoli graffiti angers Golding

Published:Wednesday | November 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM
A student of St Anne's Primary School walks by the divisional office of councillor for Tivoli Gardens, Desmond McKenzie, where graffiti endorsing the People's National Party was painted.
Bruce Golding (right), prime minister and member of parliament for West Kingston, speaks with Deputy Superintendent of Police Renford Rowe during a tour of Tivoli Gardens yesterday. - photos by Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Arthur Hall, Senior Stafff Reporter

Member of Parliament for West Kingston, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, is demanding answers from the police about who spray-painted pro-People's National Party (PNP) graffiti on several premises in the communities of Denham Town and Tivoli Gardens Tuesday morning.

Golding, who is also leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), visited the constituency yesterday while residents were still enraged about the 'PNP' markings which had been painted.

"I don't want to speculate, but what is curious is that this area has been under tight police and military surveillance so there are several people who are going to have to answer some questions," Golding told journalists in Tivoli Gardens.

"Something like what has gone on throughout the area last night could not have happened without being observed," added Golding.

According to the West Kingston MP: "The one thing that I will dismiss is that the graffiti that was painted here was done by duppies from over the May Pen Cemetery."

Councillor for Tivoli, Desmond McKenzie, was also adamant that the police should provide quick answers.

"I can't see how, in a community that has been under siege by the security forces 24 hours a day, something like this could happen," McKenzie told The Gleaner.

Investigations started

But up to late yesterday, the police, who have been operating from a post in Tivoli Gardens since late May, were unable to say who spray-painted the buildings.

"We are doing our investigations and we will make a full statement when we are done," head of the Police Area Four, Superintendent Terrence Bent, told The Gleaner.

"We need to find out who did the graffiti and what was their motive," added Bent, noting that people are usually present throughout the night at some of the spray-painted areas.

Bent said the police operating in West Kingston would review their processes to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.

But that was not enough for the angry residents, who claimed they already know who defaced the buildings.

The residents woke yesterday morning to find 'PNP' spray-painted in red on several buildings and they believe it was done by members of the security forces.

According to one woman, she saw three Jamaica Defence Force soldiers and one policeman painting the graffiti.

"When them mark the PNP on the wall down there so, them ask me if me don't like me colour, if me nah switch, and me just start cuss them and tell them say I born as Labourite and I will die a Labourite," the woman told The Gleaner.

She pointed to school walls, power poles, houses and even McKenzie's office in Denham Town which bore the graffiti.

Committed to JLP

As news of the graffiti spread, some residents took to the streets declaring their commitment to the JLP.

"We nah switch. We love we MP and we love we party," declared one woman.

"Them rude fi come here come paint up PNP. We a rock stone Labourite and no care what we have a family business and we nah switch," said another woman.

"Yes, we have a dispute since them come fi the 'President' (Christopher Coke) but that don't mean say we a go turn PNP. A Bruce we say all the way," the woman added.

That dispute she referred to surrounds the massive incursion into Tivoli Gardens by the security forces to capture Coke, a community enforcer who was wanted to answer charges in the United States.

More than 70 civilians were killed during the incursion and Coke was later captured and extradited, sparking criticisms of Golding by some in the constituency.

But McKenzie told The Gleaner that most of those broken fences have been repaired.

"You have some people who are still hurting, but not hurting to this extent. We have gotten over the worst of it but I find it strange that days before the West Kingston conference, which is scheduled for Sunday, and the party's annual conference in a couple of weeks, we have seen this," added McKenzie.

"God forgive we so we can forgive Bruce Golding, and we not switching," declared one woman, who was obviously listening to the interview with her councillor.