If it happens once, one could dismiss it as an understandable overreaction. If it happens twice, then it’s a habit. Three times, you have a clear pattern developing…
Jamaica, the democratic, constitutional monarchy in the centre of the Caribbean Sea, continues to flirt with a dictatorship as another Jamaican man critical of Prime Minister Andrew Holness was dragged from his home to apologise early Tuesday (July 27).
I make no apology when I say this: this country, or rather the government and its allies that lead, are toeing a fine line.
The man in question, who identified himself as Shaquille Higgins of Main Street in Moneague, St Ann, was among several Jamaicans reacting to the new curfew restrictions announced by Prime Minister Holness during his presentation on Monday.
Obviously, with a spiralling coronavirus (COVID-19) situation again on our hands, it was imperative that the Government acted swiftly. Commendations must be given for decisive action to slow the rate of spread before we have a full-on contagion.
- Related article: Jamaica’s COVID-19 caseload again on the rise as infections spike
It must be made VERY CLEAR, however, that for Jamaicans—the hard-headed and stubborn people that we sometimes are—logical thinking will escape some residents and that should NEVER exclude them from freedom of expression.
While Higgins’ language was admittedly foul and disrespectful, I am bemused and flabbergasted as to why a taxpaying citizen was accosted in the manner he was by the St Ann Police.
Incensed by the change from the 11:00 pm nightly curfews, Higgins said in the reactionary video that the new 8:00 pm restriction would seemingly jeopardise his attendance at the “all-white” Marco Polo water party.
The event, which was advertised as an August 2 extravaganza, has been rescheduled for August 7 between 12 noon and 7:00 pm, according to Marco Polo Jamaica’s Instagram page.
“It ah record? [Expletive deleted] Andrew Holness! Mi name Shaquille Higgins; live ah Main Street, Moneague… [Expletive deleted], come fi mi now!” Higgins began in the 20-second video shared on social media.
“Yah real wasteman, you [expletive deleted] Anju. [Expletive deleted]. A who you man? Bout 8 o’clock, afta man plan fi [expletive deleted] Marco Polo, yuh come bout yah…hey bwoy [expletive deleted],” he added before trailing off.
Listening keenly to the man’s rant, his anger was visible and, again, the choice of language was obscene. However, at no point was the prime minister threatened.
The shocking turn of events was shared shortly after as police found Higgins’ home, and ushered the semi-clothed man to get dressed.
The officers, who recorded Higgins, instructed him to “put on one long pants”, and questioned whether he was drinking.
Another video, diving deeper into authoritarianism, saw an armed police officer again recording Higgins in the presence of a Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) sergeant demanding he apologise to Holness.
“Tell di Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, ‘Mi sorry mi eva mek that utterance’,” the officer guided Higgins, to which the man, aware he was being recorded, obliged.
“I’m really sorry,” Higgins began, when he was interrupted by the sergeant, who demanded he use the ‘same energy’ he had in his earlier rant.
Okay so apology aside, what in the mad puss…urine…is going on in St Ann?
Firstly, his reaction is not isolated, and from what I can see, Higgins made no breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), as, if the stipulated curfew in effect is 11:00 pm, the law allows citizens an extra hour to get home.
Secondly, why are the police making a habit of breaching people’s homes to prove a point? What were the charges and was a warrant executed?
Thirdly, WHY are the police recording this entire interaction and goading for an adult to apologise to ONE MAN? What was the point of this grandstanding?
Frankly, the JCF’s argument would have been more easily digestible if Higgins was urged to apologise to the Jamaican public for inciting a rejection of the new curfew measures—as this could be construed as a risk to the wider society.
This makes no blasted sense.
Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay, head of the JCF’s Corporate Communications Unit, when contacted told Our Today that she was aware of the now-viral videos and could not provide comment until further checks were made.
As explained, this is not an isolated incident as a Jones Town resident was dragged from under his bed in April 2020 after disrespecting the prime minister.
Interestingly, this energy is seemingly only directed toward one group in the society, those disenfranchised, of a particular socio-economic background and “in need” of a valuable lesson.
Does the Jamaican Constitution not apply to all citizens? This must be called out for what it plainly is: a human rights breach.
Cease and desist!