Thursday 24 September, 2020

A view from the outside: Arnett Gardens has a lot to answer for

Yetanya Francis and Michelle Moulton

Yetanya Francis and Michelle Moulton

                                                                  With Karyl Walker


Unu old vampire – Peter Tosh

There is a lot the community of Twelfth Street in Arnett Gardens has to answer for.

The latest being the macabre rape, murder and torching of the innocent 14-year-old child, Yetanya ‘Princess’ Francis. A resident of Twelfth Street.

As a Wolmerian who went to school with many residents from Arnett Gardens – more popularly known as 'Concrete Jungle' - I am well aware that many of Jamaica’s most productive citizens have their roots in ‘Jungle’.

I can point to highly rated football coaches, Jerome Waite, Hylton ‘Joe Ligues’ Dayes, footballer Michael Bernard and many others as proof of the above statement.

While the above mentioned were attending the great institution, there was no indication that they were from a volatile community or that they were any less privileged than any of the other students. Bernard and Dayes were prefects whose demeanour and mannerisms left little to be desired, while Waite was an all-round sportsman whose exploits on the track are memorable.

All three are now productive members of society who would have to inform those around them of their origins for it to be known.

Such is the dignity with which they operate. Where you are from does not define you.

All that seems to have changed dramatically however, with the behavior of the denizens of the garrison community which is splintered into many smaller factions. There are many different sections of the dormitory community. Some of them are known as 'Zimbabwe', 'Angola', 'Top Jungle', 'Bottom Jungle' and 'Pegasus'.

Each ruled by its own ‘don’. Then there is Jones Town, Admiral Town and Craig Town – communities which adjoin Arnett Gardens.

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All are traditional supporters of the People’s National Party, a political phenomenon which dates back to the days of the firebrand politician, Tony Spaulding, who as minister of construction built the community and packed it with party supporters in an answer to the prototype of all garrisons, Tivoli Gardens, which was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.

I am sure Mr Spaulding would not countenance the brutal incidents that are being wreaked on the innocent children of that section of the Corporate Area and the perpetrators of such acts would be coughed up and brought to justice were he alive.

But this column is not about the history of garrison politics. It is a cry for the latest child victim of barbaric forces of evil who just happen to reside in Arnett Gardens.

I am willing to stick my neck out on the chopping block and declare that no outsider could have the means or guts to attempt such an act in a closely knit community such as Twelfth Street.

I have covered crime in Jamaica for almost two decades and if I have learnt one thing about Arnett Gardens, it is that no outsider could commit a crime like the one perpetrated against Yetanya and make a clean escape.

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The community knows something and knows more than they are letting on. That is the biggest heartbreak of all.

The circumstances of the case that have surfaced so far are well known. Yetanya went to a cook shop to purchase food and did not return home. The child’s worried mother then launched a frantic search for her, but to no avail. The grief that was chiseled on the face of that mother, who reported that she smelt the putrid scent of flesh burning and thought it was a dog, is gut-wrenching.

Imagine inhaling the smell of the burning flesh of your own child? Will that woman ever recover from that trauma and deep mental scar?

In communities like Twelfth Street, nothing goes unnoticed. Life is always a bustle. There is no way a child could be raped, murdered and torched without there being even one witness. But, as usual, no one saw anything.

Arnett Gardens has a lot to answer for.

It is very surprising that whenever there is a questionable police killing, all and sundry were witnesses. But when a murder is committed by a civilian, only the walls have eyes.

The community has a lot to answer for.

Less than a year ago, 17-year-old student of Meadowbrook High, Michelle Moulton, was shot as she slept beside her little sister in the nearby Zimbabwe community.

Reports emerged days after that she was killed because she resisted the sexual advances of thugs in the community. The child’s mother was very vocal that Michelle’s killers were living nearby and that the community knew who they were. But instead of coughing them up, the residents were angered at her statements and the woman and the remainder of her family had to be escorted out by the police.

This is the nature of the garrison.

Twelfth Street has a lot to answer for.

I cry for Yetanya and the other children of my beloved homeland who have fallen victim to the diminished morals that have taken over the thought process of Jamaicans like the bubonic plague. So rotten are our minds that we cannot see the evil of such an act and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice, street or otherwise and that no one dare commit such a heinous act ever again.

Who knows whose daughter will be next?

To her killer or killers and those who are enabling them to escape justice, I can only quote the late great Peter Tosh.

“Unu Old Vampire!”

That is my view from the outside.

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