Thursday 22 October, 2020

A view from the outside: the land of nine day wonders

Kingston Technical High School administrators place a framed photo of the Yetanya Francis inside the Wildman Street Pentecostal Tabernacle as the school held a remembrance service for its late student in September.

Kingston Technical High School administrators place a framed photo of the Yetanya Francis inside the Wildman Street Pentecostal Tabernacle as the school held a remembrance service for its late student in September.

                                                                 With Karyl Walker

Jamaica is truly the land of nine day wonders.

Back in August, Jamaicans at home and abroad were up in arms when news broke of the ghastly murder of 14-year-old Yetanya Francis in the hot bed community of Arnett Gardens; they were beside themselves with rage and, all round, calls rang out for her killer/killers to be brought to justice.

Now, barely two months later, Yetanya’s frightening demise seems to have become a distant memory in our minds. She is just another statistic. Another one of the many children who were crushed like cockroaches under the boot heels of callous, bloodthirsty criminals who wreak havoc on our nation and have the law-abiding among us cowering in fear.

It is a fact that the sweet life that bubbled within Yetanya has not been the only one to have been mercilessly ripped away from as far back as one can remember. Jamaicans have become so drunk on incidents such as these that it is easy to live in false pretense by trying to forget and move on with our own existence, all the while hoping and praying that the next victim is not us or our loved ones.

But it is an indictment against us as a nation if heinous crimes such as these become just another unsolved crime. As a nation with a majority of decent, law-abiding citizens, the strong demand must be made of those in authority - those who claim our taxes and remittances that are vital to the country’s well-being - to do their job and ensure that justice is brought to bear for those who have been wronged by the deviants among us.

Will it be that the media, the police and, most importantly, the community of Arnett Gardens just allow this one to slide?

The media, of which I consider myself proudly a part of, should keep the spotlight shining on this and other cases which have rocked us for a moment and now are seemingly being treated as just statistic. After all, we are the ones who keep the pressure on those who have been mandated with securing the nation, whether it be the law enforcement officers, the elected representatives or those who know the truth behind this gruesome crime but choose to stay silent.

It is startling to me that one can reside thousands of miles outside of the island and get word that it is common knowledge that a relative of an influential community member is highly suspected by residents as the perpetrator of this crime. Surely the police must have gotten wind of this? Why then have we not even heard that a person of interest has been named for this crime or that an arrest has been made?

For a young child to have been abducted, possibly raped, killed and her remains burnt in the same community in which she resided and nothing to be done about it even on an investigative level, speaks volumes to how Jamaica has neglected the safety and security of its richest resource – the people.

Many who read this column will react by thinking that Yetanya has not been the only child to have been slaughtered by criminals, so why place the focus on her? The fact is that there has never been a sustained call for justice for too many of the country’s citizens whose precious lives have been snuffed out, leaving their loved ones scarred for life. This can no longer be the case. We have to start somewhere.

Policing is not an ordinary job. It is a chosen profession.  It takes a special breed of human being to enroll in law enforcement and take the job seriously. It is by no means an easy road to trod, especially in a violent society such as Jamaica. However those who have enlisted in the constabulary and have no criminal motive behind that move, must up their game and display the type of steadfast focus on serving, protecting and reassuring the vulnerable among us. For too long the criminal element, who are the minority, have held the country at bay.

We need justice for Yetanya and all the other victims of crime whose assailants have yet to be brought to book. It is the first step in bringing back the land of Jamaica from the bloody abyss of murderous despair and into which it has sunken.

That is my view from the outside.

Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.

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