Archive for the ‘Election peace/violence’ Category

Political Code of Conduct signed in Grants Pen

Monday, July 16th, 2007


Contributed: President of the United States George W. Bush (left) with Omar Frith (centre), Manager of the Grants Pen, St. Andrew-based Stella Maris Foundation, at the Conference of the Americas, held in Washington D.C. last week. The Bush administration has funded community policing efforts in Grants Pen, including the construction of the ‘Model Community Police Station’, via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Election candidates in the constituency of North East St. Andrew took a further step towards peace by signing a political code of conduct this morning.

The Political Code of Conduct is being signed by candidates in all 60 constituencies.

Gleaner Online was invited back to the Grants Pen area of the constituency to witness the signing, after reporting from the community last week. Unfortunately for Grants Pen, which has experienced relative peace in the past two years, there were two murders prior to the signing – one this morning and another on Saturday night.

However both murders were gang-related and not politically motivated, stressed Inspector Michael Simpson, commanding officer of the ‘Model Community Police Station’, located on Grants Pen Avenue, where the signing was held.

Omar Frith, Manager of the Stella Maris Foundation which runs a community centre on Grants Pen Avenue, said the signing was another step towards community transformation.

“The signing was a symbolic gesture concerning the fact that Grants Pen has been in the past consumed by violence. All the organisations have been working in the past to make Grants Pen a safer place, so it was time for the political representatives and the stakeholders to join in on this effort,” said Mr. Frith.

Local Member of Parliament Delroy Chuck of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) downplayed the threat of political violence in the community. “There have been gang wars and domestic disputes, but no political violence,” said Mr. Chuck.

“Violence is not part of my upbringing, it has never been … we need to help these people. Lets not condemn them, let’s rehabilitate them.” said Hugh Thompson, caretaker for the People’s National Party (PNP), of the young men in the community.

Major Audley Harris, Justice of the Peace and the Assistant Returning Officer for the constituency, encouraged the candidates to respect the Code and maintain the peace. Major Harris recalled that former JLP leader Alexander Bustamante once rebuked his supporters at a rally for booing the name of his cousin, PNP leader Norman Manley.

“No, no he is my cousin, and you will treat him with the same respect you showed me,” Major Harris quoted Bustamante defending Manley. “And all of us in this room are more than cousins, we are brothers and sisters.”

“It’s foolish to fight over elections”

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Television advertisement by the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ).

Peaceful election ahead for Grants Pen, say residents

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Many people think that with an election there has to be violence; as if it is compulsory for Jamaican politics.

But will this be the case during Election 2007? To find out Gleaner Online visited the politically divided Grants Pen community, which sits within the North East St. Andrew constituency.

One side ‘Bottom Gully’ supports the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Member of Parliament Delroy Chuck, while ‘Top Gully’ is loyal to the People’s National Party (PNP) and its caretaker Hugh Thompson.


Photo by Jermaine Evans: A mural depicting PNP and JLP supporters shaking hands painted at the entrance to Morgan Lane in the community of Grants Pen, North St. Andrew.

The community has enjoyed peace in recent years thanks to efforts by residents, churches and community policing funded by the private sector and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The political parties have also worked together to erase political graffiti.

Grants Pen remains stigmatised by violence although the area went over a year without a reported murder during 2005/6, following the murder of seven-year-old Shaneal Raffington, which outraged the community and spurred peacemaking. Nonetheless police have seized few guns and residents have reported rising political tensions.

However: “No tension, jus’ life and mobility … a dat we a campaign fa right now,” was the immediate reply of one resident who identified himself as a JLP supporter. He was sitting among a group of men relaxing on the borderline, ‘Pon di gully side’, on Grants Pen Avenue.

“Di whole place under a global order” added his friend.

Another man who identified himself as Carl said peace was being held between Bottom Gully and the “man dem from up di road” – the PNP.

But he added: “This community is a community weh tings can happen at anytime, you can’t predict nutten … so far wi no see nutten, but anytime, anytime tings can happen.”

Entering Top Gully and the ‘rival’ PNP Morgan Lane the first thing a visitor will notice is not evidence of politics but artistic talent in the community – non-political murals which enliven the Lane. Elderly resident Rose Grandison was sat in her chair in the shade enjoying the quiet of the afternoon.

“I don’t believe they are going to have a war time … they are against it immensely,” said Mrs. Grandison of the young men on both sides. However in Morgan Lane they were less willing to be interviewed.

A short walk further down the Avenue is the Grants Pen ‘Model Community Police Station’; unique in Jamaica it also houses a health centre, Internet café, community meeting facility and other amenities. The station has been held as a symbol of community transformation perhaps more than any other development in the community.

“The police have implemented various patrols within the area, foot, bicycle and mobile patrols. Them no gi criminals no time fi do nutten, so as soon as somebody think fi do something the police ago deh deh, so dem no get no time,” said Daniel Markland, Public Relations Officer for the police youth club.

The church, organised under the banner of the Greater Grants Pen Ministers’ Fraternal, will be continuing among other efforts monthly meetings with police and political representatives to maintain peace.
“I am very optimistic that peace will be maintained throughout the Election period and onward,” said Pastor Ian Muirhead, who heads the group.