'Jamericans' pour out to see Portia in Flatbush
It was a near mob scene outside the Lennox Road Baptist Church in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday as Jamaicans there lined up for more than three hours to hear from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was visiting the area for the first time since she took office.
Even though Simpson Miller was more than two hours late for the event, the 'Jamericans' who made up the crowd were prepared to wait. The sanctuary of the 137-year-old Brooklyn landmark was filled to capacity long before the slated 6 p.m. start a short while later, so was the balcony and the overflow room. Several persons who travelled hours from other states were turned away, disappointed as the church was at capacity.
The prime minister was greeted with thunderous applause when she entered the church; this was followed by chants of "Portia! Portia! Portia! Portia!" The prime minister gave many bear hugs and kisses were doled out to the faithful; one of whom was so overwhelmed to be acknowledged he broke down in tears in Simpson Miller's arms. The crush of people pressing forward to touch the prime minister was brought under control and the evening progressed as planned.
The prime minister is on a multi-pronged visit to New York. On Tuesday, she was honoured with 99 other global movers and shakers with TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential Persons award. Early Wednesday, she talked bauxite with executives from Alcoa and this weekend will attend the Penn Relays Carnival in her capacity as minister of sports where organisers are planning a special salute to Jamaica.
Introduced point person
Under the watchful eyes of Secret Service agents, the prime minister used the opportunity to introduce Jamaica's new consul general to New York, Herman Lamont. Lamont, a career foreign service officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will be Jamaica's point person in the tri-state area serving 33 states in the North Western United States. Lamont was previously posted in Miami, Florida, and Toronto, Canada. The prime minister also introduced new community relations officer, veteran journalist Christopher Castriota who will work to build ties between the Jamaican community and the consulate.
In her address, Simpson Miller boasted that her government had already fulfilled some of the pre-election promises that were made to the Jamaican people.
"We promised an open and transparent government, we started, and I will demand no less from members of the Cabinet. I have instructed the ministers to seek the involvement of the people of Jamaica at all levels, including members of the Jamaican diaspora. Arrogance, rudeness and crudeness will have no place in my Cabinet," she told the gathering to thunderous applause.