An interesting exchange happened yesterday between witness John Greene, a Tivoli resident, and Linton Gordon, attorney for the JDF. Mr. Greene had lived a long time in America before living in Jamaica.
At one point, the lawyer asked if the witness “knew” Jah T, ‘Claudie’ Mossop, or Lester Lloyd Coke (aka ‘Jim Brown’). (These are the names of people who had been claimed to have ‘ruled’ Tivoli through various kinds of strong-arm methods.) He said he did. He was asked if they were leaders or dons in Tivioli? He said he knew them or of them. He asked what leader or don meant. He was told they ruled Tivoli. He then asked what ruled meant. He was told this meant enforcing the laws of the community. Mr. Greene said the Denham Town police were there for that. The lawyer then asked about ‘Dudus’ enforcing rules, such as children being off the streets at night or what happened to thieves and rapists. Mr. Greene said that children should be off the streets at night, Dudus did not have to tell people that. He added that thieves and other criminals would be beaten by neighbors, and that was not under Dudus’ rules, but the rules of Jamaica.
The lawyer sought to understand how the then-PM could declare a State of Emergency and mount an attack on Tivioli if the place was peaceful and Dudus was just an “ordinary citizen” just going around “on his bike”. He suggested there was a “code of silence”. He called the witness a liar, though this was soon retracted.
It’s one of the strange characterizations of Tivoli that it was an area relatively free of crime and that this reflected some ‘strong arm tactics’ by a gang leader or a series of such leaders. Interesting, in that the area had been the long-time political seat of two of Jamaica’s PMs. Could it have been the case that these politicians, Edward Seaga and Bruce Golding, set the right tone? Is that as reasonable a suggestion as claiming something else? For sure, Mr. Seaga was acknowledged as the leader of Tivoli, well-respected, and did much to transform the area. At another level, one could suggest the politicians had help in getting things done and for the area to have a certain character. But, that’s not being suggested by the lawyers. It would imply that elected politicians were also ruled by so-called unelected leaders. Or, that there was an ‘understanding’ or mutual relationship between these parties to keep things in order.
Maybe, if Bruce Golding is called as a witness that point could be raised. Mr. Seaga could also be called, and they can give their views on how Tivoli functioned.
But, is there a code of silence? Are witnesses afraid to tell the truth? The implication is that the truth is other than what they’ve said. The witnesses all take an oath, and Mr. Greene reinforced that during answers yesterday, saying “So help me, God…So help me, Jah.” The witnesses are on live national TV. Many of them have made claims against police and soldiers, most of whom they said they cannot identify. As far as I know, none of the witnesses have been alleged to be gang members or criminals in Jamaica. Some have been deported from the USA, but the relevance of that to the enquiry is unclear.
So, if they are afraid, of whom are they liked to be afraid? Of overbearing alleged villains in their communities, some of whom they say they know at least visually, and who seem to move freely around the community? Or, of law and security enforcement officers who have been alleged to have come into their community, masked, hooded, and armed, who then abused, beat, shot and killed some of their neighbours, friends, and relatives?
I don’t know the answer, but just think what seems reasonable–to use the term of a lawyer.