by Cato Rand
Profound apologies at my work-related hiatus from the blogosphere. Glad to be back.
Mario Deane’s Death
I begin with comments re: the recent beating death of Mario Deane. This 31 year old construction worker was arrested on the morning of August 3 – while on his way to work – for the possession of a ganga spliff.
Deane was later that day severely beaten while in custody at the Barnett Street police lock up in Montego Bay, St James and died in the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) some 3 days later. The Police have subsequently charged three men with his death. Interestingly (and most conveniently us cynics may say), two of the men are mentally ill and one is a deaf mute (who by the way cannot read and does not understand sign language.)
Many Jamaicans, myself included, do not believe the account being proffered by the Police especially considering that reports indicate Deaneʼs bail was interrupted because of comments that he does not like the police. The person who had come to stand surety for Deaneʼs bail became suspicious and later returned – before the appointed time – only to be told that Deane was in hospital.
American pathologist Dr Michael Baden, who observed Deaneʼs September 2 autopsy on behalf of his family, has noted that post mortem findings are in keeping with death resulting from extensive brain damage due to multiple impact injuries to face, head and brain.
The Police who are “to serve and protect” certainly have many questions to answer as even if they did not inflict such wounds they are certainly negligent in not preventing Deane being subjected to such violence whilst in their care. Sadly, incidents like this occur much too often in a country that wants to brand itself as “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”.
Kamoza Clarke’s Death
As recently as February 2014, 31 year old Kamoza Clarke died at the CRH some 4 months after being severely beaten by policemen whilst in custody at the Falmouth Police Station. The Police at the time put out a story that his injuries resulted from him hitting his head on a wooden bench while being restrained. Fortunately footage from closed circuit television cameras that had been installed at the recently constructed (2012) Falmouth Police Station was able to contradict this story and showed Police personnel reigning blows on Clarke (who has a history of schizophrenia) after he refused to obey orders to return to his cell. Unfortunately cameras are not present in the Barnett Street lock up.
Deaneʼs death again highlights the need for our society to be more concerned about individual rights. One does not sense that our political leaders are incensed and revolted by such gross violation of human rights. The citizenry on the other hand will make the cry for “we want justice”, but I suspect this will recede as time passes.
Lets hope that Deanʼs death will result in us Jamaicans collectively drawing the proverbial “line in the sand” – declaring that enough is enough, that any and all interactions among individuals must be centered on individual rights and we adopt the concept that the primary function of the nation-state is to protect these rights and thus the reason that governments are created among people.
Deaneʼs death also brings into sharp focus our societyʼs stance on marijuana. Legislation will soon be passed into law to decriminalize possession of small quantities of the “herb”. While this is certainly commendable, I think we should really be instituting the legalization of the use of marijuana. As a matter of fact I think we should legalize the use of all drugs.
For many this may seem too drastic a move but I think it is the only sensible thing to do. Jamaicaʼs “War on Drugs” has for example not prevented their continued use, created criminal empires and corrupted law enforcement personnel. Drug legalization will lead to the state shifting resources from preventing trafficking of drugs which is nothing but Sisyphean to the rehabilitation of drug addicts and educating citizens about the dangers of drug use. Our society can thus adopt a medical approach to drug use rather than a law and order approach.
Making the use of drugs legal will also enable the authorities to collect taxes from drug sales and considering the parlous state of the countryʼs coffers, we desperately need to identify new revenue streams.
Hopeton Lewis Passes on
In closing let me express condolences at the death of singer Hopeton Lewis whose recording of “Take it easy” is considered by experts on Jamaican music to have ushered in the rock steady era. His cover of “Grooving out on Life” is certainly another classic.
By the way what has become of Twiggy who recorded a few songs on Donovan Germaineʼs Penthouse label during the 1990s.