1 “Good morning, affisa”, I always said
2 Whether they wore khaki or black with the blue seam or red
3 Even when they ignored me time and again
4 I felt all police officers were my friends
5 I mean, their job was to protect and to serve people like me
6 So I understood in the moments that they may have been a little grumpy
7 And then I grew up and something changed
8 My friends became rivals, their roles rearranged
9 Their job was to hunt
10 to bag and tag or to cage
11 With eagerness and bloodlust
12 With arrogance and with rage
13 God forbid we utter a word
14 The wolves drove by in jeeps ready to dwindle the herd
15 And the nearby bushes through which we always escaped
16 Opened up on the other side to a hole that gaped
17 An orifice filled with the sinking sand that was
18 The criminal system skewed in favour of “the fuzz”
19 Your only crime most times was being born in a forsaken place
20 Or being viewed as the worst of the most vicious race
21 No one on your side so we turn to weapons instead
22 Steel, metal, copper, lead
23 Powder so explosive, it made ears bleed
24 Its grains so fatal, it made hearts bleed
25 If we were going to be dubbed criminals
26 We were going to act like it
27 But these were real life performances
28 Not a play nor a skit
29 If God be for us—
30 What God do you mean?
31 The God that let the bullets rip through Crabby’s spleen?
32 The God that let Vanessa’s young soul be taken at sixteen?
33 The God that let Kay-Ann and her unborn lose their light?
34 The same God that sent the police to Kavorn’s house that night?
35 Or did you mean Dudus- the god we knew and could touch?
36 The one who gave us miracles while not asking for much
37 Who gave us food, shelter and clothing everyday
38 Who looked out for the poor by making the rich pay
39 That was our saviour and we would have fought to protect him
40 We would have stood up firm against my former friends even when things looked grim
41 “Jesus died for us, we will die for Dudus!”
42 And so we did
43 It goes without saying that as bleak as things seemed
44 This wasn’t the future I envisioned when I was a kid
45 But neither did Shanell when we used to be close
46 Of all my friends with potential, she had the most
47 Then she developed a penchant for men in uniforms
48 She was so focused on the roses, she could not see the thorns
49 So she was cut and she bled out
50 The first slice ensuring she could not shout
51 You see, many focus on the abuse they dish out on the streets
52 The blood spilled and bruises caused before open eyes and closed mouths
53 But they fail to also see the destruction they cause behind closed doors
54 With the ones who have to take the licks they couldn’t get to give out
55 The ones who bear the burden of the sanction applied
56 for the violation suffered to the innocent until tried
57 But no one felt it for my friend- “Shi can tan!”
58 “Nuhbady neva tell har fi tek up soldier man”
59 And this is true, no one did
60 But that didn’t explain why people were not livid
61 We had become so complacent in our lives that we acquiesced to our deaths
62 Passively waiting to be forced to walk the plank
63 So used to this ill-treatment and indignation
64 That when we were asked to draw justice, our minds became blank
65 The emptiness the perfect canvas to be painted on by those at the top
66 Those who had money in their pockets as well as the top cop
67 We were seduced with promises of a better life for our families and loved ones
68 Of chicken back and oxtail and all our favourite cuisine
69 In exchange, we just had to use our weapons as spears and our bodies as shields
70 To serve and protect our yellow king and Mama queen
71 So we made this small sacrifice daily, to our loss
72 But we kept getting more promises- “Mi soon sort yuh out, boss”
73 Until one day, we were sorted in our final positions
74 It all happened so fast, we couldn’t make actual decisions
75 We were pawns in a game we didn’t sign up to play
76 May 23, 2010- never forget that day
1 Three years since our cries were last heard
2 Our souls still don’t know peace
3 And my last thought as my blood made the earth run red?
4 The fact that “Good morning, affisa”, I always said
The first annual Jamaica Blog Day is today and its date commemorates three years after the date of the Tivoli Massacre. Bloggers from Jamaica or with Jamaican heritage are seeking to collectively bring awareness to issues of significance. None is more important that that of Police and Security Force abuse. To date, allegedly 76 fatalities were suffered by civilians with 4 of these being presumed deaths of missing people. These numbers are the reason for the title of the poem and the amount of lines used.
I looked at domestic violence involving a security force officer because this doe not immediately come to mind when we hear the term “police and security force abuse” and it needs to be acknowledged because this group is especially prone to aggressive manners of resolving problems and the victims of these resolutions are generally unable to speak out. The pathology of a person given a great deal of power (read: access and weapons) to protect and as much freedom as those in the Jamaica Defense Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force is of paramount importance. It is time for an upheaval.
However, let it be observed that the change in psyche is not only due for the officers but citizens as well who have been abused into silence.
This is a very heavy topic and it has not been easy creating a post around it. But, thankfully, this train was not being driven by me alone. I must thank @cucumberjuice and @anniepaul for creating Jamaica Blog Day and I hope it was more successful than either of you imagined.
P.S. I read the intro paragraph of @Petchary’s post for JA Blog Day and it gave me the numbers that inspired the title.
All names used are actual victims of police or security force abuse in Jamaica.
Until next post!
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