Crime wave in Linstead
THE EDITOR, Sir:
'Carry me ackee go Linstead Market, not a quattie wut sell.'
Despite 'not a quattie wut sell', Linstead was a happier and safer place in the days when Louise Bennett sang that catchy tune.
Today, Linstead Market is an unholy mess crammed into a corner of traffic-congested Fletchers Avenue. If you have to venture into the market, it is advisable to keep your hand very, very close to your purse or wallet.
But, never mind, Linstead has a much bigger problem than petty thievery. A crime wave has ravaged this once peaceful town to its very foundation. It's called extortion. This is another name for blackmail - blackmail with a deadly twist.
Unscrupulous individuals demand that business owners pay them thousands of dollars in return for what they call protection. It is unclear what they mean by protection. What is clear, however, is that the owners will either have their businesses burnt to the ground if they don't comply or get murdered.
In recent years, a number of business owners have been murdered. Within the last few weeks, two supermarkets, one grocery and one hardware store were burnt. The public has not been spared other forms of crime, such as robbery. Two couples were tied up and robbed in their homes.
Stigmatised by their incompetence, the Linstead police do not enjoy the trust and confidence of the public. This was borne out when a friend was robbed by a lone gunman. A distress call was immediately placed by one of his employees to her husband in Kingston, as well as to the Linstead Police Station.
In truth, the police did finally arrive at the scene of the robbery, announcing their presence with the usual blaring of sirens and the screeching of brakes. Not surprisingly, the gunman had escaped and, unbelievably, the employee's husband had already arrived from Kingston and was waiting to greet the police!
Do the police know what is happening to Linstead? Does Jamaica know what is happening in Linstead? I think not.