Monday, May 24, 2010

Extradition gone awry

If you read this article by Sophie Tedmanson, for UK edition of the Times Online. It's an overall look at what was happening yesterday here in Kingston. If you're not aware, the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, which is a significant chunk of the Kingston metropolitan area, have been put legally into a state of emergency. There is currently a 6 o'clock curfew, suspension of habeas corpus, right to search persons and property without warrant, and more. So what's happening? The attempted extradition of Tivoli don (think mob boss if you're not aware of the terminology) Christopher Coke, or Dudus, to the US has gone awry. Days leading up to the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) and police making a move, loyal Tivoli residents have been barricading roads and turning the garrison community of Tivoli into a literal fortress. Blocking off roads by creating make shift walls, patrolling, and controlling entry and departure from the community for days. Even residents had to seek permission to leave, including students taking CXC exams (think similar to AP exams or subject SATs if you're in the US).

Why the police and JDF waited so long, giving those loyal to Dudus more time to prepare I'm really not sure. Yesterday several police stations were compromised. Last night more roads were blocked off even out of the downtown area, as far as the wealthier areas of Red Hills and Havendale (where Robert lives); also Mountainview (near Vanessa). Crossroads, a major intersection I use everyday to go to work and crucial transportation point, saw firing yesterday and the police station was under fire. Why all this loyalty? Dudus Coke, and his father who he inherited power from Jim Brown, are popular for bring stability and services that the government simply does not. More about this later. There is a video below about Jim Brown and recent political history in Jamaica. In my opinion, Dudus may be even more popular rather his father. Many of the students in our School's Work program have a friendly relationship with them. He encourages them to learn, to stay in school, to keep their head up, he gives out money to the unemployed, he throws birthday parties for children. Does this make him a good man? No, does this mean it's much more complicated than many would have it look? Of course.

If you read the article, the only area I would really comment on is the offer from the government for law abiding citizens in Tivoli Gardens to seek escape and refuge with the police seems like a bit of a pretense. For one many people have said they flat out just don't trust the police to go anywhere with them. Even beyond that, while evacuation might be a mostly viable option for women and children, for men that's a different story and definitely tricky. Seeking asylum with the Jamaican police could mean social or literal death. Would a man who accepted the offer be able to enter their community safely and comfortably again? Only if this effort really eliminates gang control. Not being able to enter the community again would weaken or eliminate weak social ties (which are more casual acquaintances known through geographic proximity or social networks). Beyond the social ramifications, people accept the offer will also fall prey to death threats or execution by gunmen for betrayal to the police. Time is of little consequence in these matters, it could happen years down the line. In the garrisons, for gunmen and badmen, revenge is revenge. There's no expiration date.

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