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Enough is enough! East Kingston residents, MP, mayor, Bunting walk for peace after infant's murder

Published:Monday | February 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Residents of the Rockfort Development Council take part in a march through the troubled East Kingston community, the first step in an intervention and outreach programme that focuses support on those in the community who are in need of help. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

Traumatised by raging acts of violence in Eastern Kingston which snatched the life of a 17-month-old baby, among others, a throng of residents yesterday spilled into the troubled communities on and around Oliver Road to pour out their anguish to political leaders.

A rallying call for peace by National Security Minister Peter Bunting resonated with the people who walked him and others through the beleaguered communities.

"We are tired of being tired! Enough is enough!" declared David Goodlitt, pastor of Johnson Town Seventh-day Adventist Church. "We don't need a change to any system. What we need is change to the hearts of men."

For many, including Bunting, Member of Parliament for Eastern Kingston Phillip Paulwell, as well as Kingston Mayor Angela Brown Burke, the councillor for the division, the murder of 17-month-old Trejaun 'Treasure' Harvey and the attempted reprisal against a two-month-old baby were just too much to bear.

"Before we came here, the member of parliament, the commissioner of police (Owen Ellington) and I visited the communities where the infant was murdered, and if that wasn't bad enough, to imagine that there would be an attempted reprisal on a two-month-old shows that something is seriously wrong with us as a people," Bunting lamented.

The national security minister spoke religiously in an atmosphere that had already taken on a rich gospel flavour as the church led other community groups in songs which called for the intervention of the Almighty.

"If I am to paraphrase the Bible, I have to ask, do we wrestle against flesh and blood or against principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places?" Bunting declared.

"What I am seeing here today is that there is a community that is convinced to put on the whole armour of God and to stand," Bunting continued, to cheers from the old and young as scores of young mothers ventured out with small children at their sides.

Asked what's next, Paulwell echoed Bunting's sentiment that the gathering signalled the start of something new.

"I think this is the beginning. As a community, the message sent out today has to be carried and it has to be carried by all of us," asserted Paulwell.

He added: "I am so pleased that the Church is now fully involved, the various community groups and, of course, we have been at the forefront of it for these years. We have had limited success, so I am hoping now that with the entire community fully on board, we will see tremendous success."

Paulwell told The Gleaner that he was aggrieved by the attacks on the young in the constituency he has represented since 1997.

"I am very distressed, especially by the murder of that 17-month-old child. It has really caused me great pain. We are working to bring those who committed these heinous acts to justice and beyond that to bring peace to the community."

However, Opposition Spokesman on National Security Derrick Smith has called for more joint military-police action in East Kingston.

Smith said the gangs operating in East Kingston are terrorists who gain their power through murder, mayhem and extortion and only the strongest action by the State can solve this problem.

He argued that while curfews, press releases, and condemnation are a part of the response of the State, they are not enough.

Stressing that a signal must be sent to criminals all over the island that they will find no comfort in any community, Smith said: "This issue must be discussed as a priority at Monday's meeting of the Cabinet, and directives must be forthcoming for increased security for the residents." He noted that the East Kingston belt is the doorway to the city, and there could be a further spread of this type of this activity if it is not curtailed."

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com