Desmond McKenzie, a Kingston Western Member of Parliament, was able to bring peace and understanding to some of his constituents on April 19th, three days after the killing of Horaine Glenn. After the 32-year-old Glenn was killed by a member of the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF), allegedly in cold blood, protesting residents blocked several streets in Kingston Western with debris that had been set on fire. The roads affected included Spanish Town Road, Charles Street, and North Street.
A relative of the man who was shot and killed by soldiers alleges that the soldiers were beating her son when Glenn intervened and was then shot himself. The soldiers maintain that they were provoked by the residents, who spat at them and threw drinks at them. They also say that Glenn attempted to disarm a soldier when he was shot. The residents deny all of these claims.
The residents promised not to stop protesting until justice was served. Early Tuesday afternoon, before McKenzie had even visited the area, residents bearing placards criticizing the soldier’s actions brought their protest to the Cannonball gate in St Andrew.
The protestors were finally reassured by McKenzie that their concerns about the killing were being heard and were valid. They were encouraged not to set any more fires but instead to visit the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) today to provide written statements. McKenzie said he would provide transportation to take witnesses to INDECOM’s offices located in New Kingston. He also encouraged the protestors to allow security forces to move freely throughout the community without interference.
“You have already expressed yourselves. We are going to use the legal channel to deal with the situation. I don’t want any more blocking of roads. We leave that behind us now. The security forces must be able to pass and go about their business without interference. I don’t want anybody to find any excuse to derail the investigations. Based on eyewitnesses and what has been circulating, you have a legitimate case for your family to seek justice,” McKenzie said. “You cannot fight fire with fire. We have been having a very good relationship with the security forces. There have been some excesses and we are prepared to deal with it in an orderly fashion.”
INDECOM Commissioner Hugh Faulkner stated that they will be investigating the recent shootings in West Kingston with vigor. He also said that they have collected eight rifles from JDF personnel who were on patrol during the incident and that the firearms will be tested for forensics and ballistics. Faulkner reassured residents that they are taking the matter seriously and will work to get to the bottom of what happened.
Faulkner said that they will interview people, ask questions, and then submit the case to the director of public prosecutions. He said that their investigations will be thorough and that it takes time to do things properly. Faulkner also said that people should give them any digital material they have that could help the case.
Witnesses are being encouraged to come to 1 Dumfries Road to provide verbal or written accounts of what they saw. So far, no one has allowed their verbal statements to be taken down in writing.
Debbie, an outspoken resident of the area, said that the roadblocks will end, and the community will be paying close attention to see how the authorities handle this matter from here on out.
It is clear that the community does not want any more violence, and they are willing to work with the authorities to ensure that justice is served. However, it is also clear that they are disappointed with how the situation was handled and believe that more could have been done to prevent it from escalating to the point of violence. A male resident said Saturday’s incident should serve as a message to the security forces.
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