Title: Killing Street and community Revival
Author: Horace Levy
Published by: The Centre for Public Safety and Justice the University of the West Indies
With a foreword by Professor Barry Chevannes
Reviewed By: Fr Gerard McLaughlin, SJ (Originally featured in the Jamaica Observer newspaper)
This University of the West Indies- sponsored manuscript that highlights’ the work of Aristotle, Fredrich Hegel, Karl Marx, the Italian Communist Gramsci, Hannah Arendt Habermas and Phillip Sherlock, employs a few Greek words like politike and oikos and ethos, then some Latin words like societies civilis while telling the bloody story of the street violence in Jamaica during the period beginning in 1970, surely deserves a good read. Horace Levy, in the first issue sponsored by the brand-new Centre for Public Safety and Justice of the University, calls the book Killing Street and Community Revival, and relates the story, not only of the violence (over 1600 Jamaicans criminally killed in 2005), but of the effect of the Ministry Of National Security’s Citizen security and Justice programme, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Dispute Resolution Foundation, Ministry of Health and Violence Prevention alliance, Human Employment and Resource Training (Heart Trust), Excelsior Community College (EXED) Area Youth Foundation, Grace and Staff, Social Development Commission, UNDP’s Civic Dialogue, Kingston and St Andrew Action Forum, USAID, UNFPA, Jamaica Constabulary Force, Bustamante Children Hospital, Ministry Fraternal, Roots FM, the CHASE Fund, Food for the Poor, Carlong Publishers, Jamaica Biscuit Company, Colgate Jamaica, Heart Foundation, Blue Cross, Jamaica for Justice, Independent Council for Human Rights, and others.
Despite the battery of helping hands, however, the violence continues.
The story narrates the remedial work of the Peace management Committee in the areas of Dunkirk (East Kingston), Duhaney Park, Torrington Park, Craig Town, Mountain View, Jones Town, Majestic Gardens, and Woodford Park. Slight mention is made to Trench Town and Tivoli Gardens; apparently these isolated enclaves were not friendly to the effects of the Peace Management Committee.
Despite the effort of the Grace Kennedy Foundation (a $10-milion budget) and others, the author highlights the very unresponsive private and business sector in the fight against violence. Strong in his criticism of the constabulary force, politicians, delinquent parents, the shocking inadequacy of the court system and the utter failure of the business community, he lists even more causes like knives, machetes and guns, the overhanging possibility of the resumption of hangings, the confinement of prisoners, etc.
The narrative embraces the work of the Peace Management Committee, funded by the ministry of National security and executed by an intelligent and dedicated board and staff. The committee boasts of a hands-on, nose- to –nose, upfront conciliation with the centres and personnel provoking the violence.
The effort is then followed up by hands-on counseling and outside assistance. Professor Barry Chevannes, as a Sociologyist has provided a progress chart, demonstrating the accomplishments that will give some guarantee of success in each community’s walk towards peace.
The book is chock-full of information on the current violence that noe plagues our nation. Naturally, the author favours the approach of the Peace Management Initiative and looks forward to its application in the island’s other towns experiencing violence.
Helpfully, the references listed at the back of the book are a clever and sufficient list of all the publications concerned with violence, crime and poverty in Jamaica.
The style is informal, conversational; but in some instances the sentences are tangled and needed clarity. The question of the ownership of the manuscript is unclear. It is published by the Centre for Public Safety and justice of the UWI but is copyrighted to the author. Levy focuses on the damage done by politicians in their control of garrison communities. Perhaps there is another side to the story.
I was the senior administration in the Ministry of Housing between the years 1973 to 1980. Levy notices that the garrisons had their birth during that period. My experience was somewhat different. We accepted applications as they came into the ministry, conducted interviews, received anyone coming through the door. Schemes were phase 5, 6, and 7 of trench town, McIntyre Villas, Duhaney Park, and some others. It was our belief, of course (due to the political tensions of the time), that only Socialists were applying; Labourites feared the process. But what to do? The applications were finally sent the Honourable Minister; I recall few, if any, rejections.
It is understandable that the text makes no mention of the spiritual or psychological roots of the problem of violence. We know that the moral theology of natural law teaches that every man knows right from wrong, good from bad – intrinsically, inescapably. Surely the criminal, no matter how hardened, knows that his is a wrong act – and can never claim innocence. Until our people find the strength to follow their innermost consciences, violence will keep happening
This book is available online @Amazon.