About two weeks ago now, Jamaican security forces invaded the barricaded area of Tivoli Gardens going strong for area leader and business man Christopher »Pressi« Coke – wanted by the US for drugs and arms trafficking. This happened after three Downtown Kingston police stations were attacked by gunmen who are supposed supporters of Coke.
Ever since then, parts of the Jamaican capital have been under a state of emergency and the operation has turned into a general hunt for influential leaders of garrison communities all over Kingston. Official numbers say 73 civilians and one soldier/police have been killed (Jamaica Gleaner) and many more injured in this »degarrisonation« attempt of PM Bruce Golding, 25 of the 34 men called in by the police are in custody (Jamaica Observer).
As a foreigner, I do not really feel well-informed enough to actually comment on the situation – especially as Jamaican news reports and blog articles to which I would have to refer to often seem biased and rumours – like so often in Jamaica – are all over the place.
All I know is that whenever I went to Tivoli Gardens during the time I lived in or visited Kingston, no matter if at night or during day time, I felt save and welcomed by the people – something which hasn’t always been the case in other parts of town. Of course, I know, too, that – like our friend Dylan Powe (Passa Passa / Prodigal Ent.) put it in an interview about the impact of the current situation on the street dance event »Passa Passa« with The Fader – not only innocent but also some »not so innocent« live and reign in TG.
However, politicians in the country are »not so innocent« either and the question remains how the government – which has already started to seek for massive amounts of foreign financial aid (Jamaica Gleaner, Business Week) in this »turning point for Jamaica as a nation« (Bruce Golding, GO Jamaica) – will fill the massive power vacuum resulting from the moving out of the area dons and gain the support of the Downtown people who have often felt treated better and with more justice by the dons than by the government and the security forces.
PS: The New York Times and The Guardian (assisted by another friend of ours, Ross Sheil, who is reporting from Jamaica) are doing a good job covering the situation in Jamaica. Find their country pages here and here.
I especially recommend these articles: Jamaica Strains to Fill Void Left by Gang Bosses, Jamaica Bleeds for our »War on Drugs«, Jamaica has Chance to Rid Country of Corruption, and the Fader interview mentioned above: Dylan Powe Talks the Past and Future of Passa Passa in West Kingston.