Sunday 20 October, 2019

Lambert Brown bowls a bouncer at the Gov’t’s crime-fighting measures

Lambert Brown

Lambert Brown

‘…  A fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained’ was part of a speech by Emperor Haile Selassie that was popularised by reggae legend, Bob Marley in the song ‘War’.

The phrase was again used on Friday, this time by Opposition Senator, Lambert Brown, as he lambasted the Government for “failing to make Jamaicans safe”.

The outspoken and often controversial senator was making his contribution to the debate on a resolution to extend the state of emergency in the St Catherine North Police Division by three months until January 2. The resolution was eventually approved, but not before Brown took the Andrew Holness-led Government to task over its record on fighting crime.

“The likelihood of going to bed with your windows open and doors open and waking up in the morning and still being alive is still an illusion being pursued but never (to be) attained under this Government,” Brown stated.

Holness, then Opposition Leader, had promised Jamaicans during the campaign for the February 2016 General Elections which the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won, that the party would combat the country’s security problems to the point where they would be able to sleep with their doors and windows open. But instead, a runaway crime wave left over 1,600 people dead in 2017, which led to the imposition of two states of emergency and two Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) across the country.

On Friday, Brown pointed to the shooting death of minister of religion, 29-year-old James Johnson, inside his church on Old Harbour Road in St Catherine in broad daylight, as evidence that the Government has lost the handle in the crime fight.

Johnson was reportedly shot in the back seven times by a lone gunman as he taught bible class at about 5:00 p.m., and speculation has been rife since then about the motive for the attack.

The brazenness of the attack and where it took place (within the boundaries of the state of emergency in the St Catherine North Police Division) were evidently behind Brown’s questioning of what he has described as the prime minister’s notion that criminals are on the run.

Holness, in a debate last Tuesday on a motion in the House of Representatives to extend the state of emergency in St Catherine, pointed to a 68 per cent reduction in murders and shootings in the police division since the state of emergency has been in place there as clear evidence that the security measure has been effective.

But Brown begged to differ.

“… And shoot that minister of religion with a state of emergency present. Walk out (of the church) having fired seven shots, and has not been apprehended. That certainly tells me that the criminals are not on the run, and the Prime Minister is wrong on that,” the senator asserted.

Holness told the House on Tuesday that up to 245 lives have been saved this year when compared to 2017, as a result of the emergency measures that have been put in place by the Government.

In the meantime, Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Donna Scott-Motley, recalled meeting Johnson just the day before he was murdered.

“I just cannot accept that one day later, when I saw his photograph it was because he was dead,” said Scott-Mottley. 

“He was a young man with a tremendous amount of potential,” she added.

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