Youngsters from the area known as ‘Diplomats’ Corner’ in the west Kingston community of Fletcher’s Land say they have grown tired of attending the funerals of their loved ones, citing this as the main reason that they have tried to keep peace in the community.
“History create around here. Trust me. Couple years back, we had about eight funerals in six months – all of them my friends,” said Junior, a confessed shotta, during a Gleaner-RISE Life On the Corner forum put on in the community last Thursday.
“One of the time, me cry. Me have to wonder if a so my friend dem going to come and drink at my funeral, too. That’s how I really see that things have to change. Too much youths a dead,” continued Junior, who reeled out name after name of friends killed from the area.
Many of the youngsters, he said, were teenagers.
For the past year, however, a rivalry, which has wiped out dozens of youngsters from differing factions in the community, has seen a lull in activity. The roadways are no longer blocked with debris to keep out trespassers, and residents are preparing for a festive Christmas.
Still, the tension stands. Every passing motor car is met with probing stares, and black fabric on light posts and a mural dedicated to those who have died are graphic reminders of the bloodshed of years ago.
“The mother dem bawl twice. Dem bawl for dem belly pain, and dem bawl because they don’t have the money to bury their children. And the community bawl because when crime go on, nothing can happen,” added elder Carlton Powell, who remembers a time when “one funeral would come and meet another one”.
“The youth dem in the community see that it really don’t make any sense. All we are seeing is just youths a dead, our friends a dead. So that is why right now, you don’t see a whole heap a things a go on,” continued Junior to nods of approval from other participants.
The residents said that with the violence at a lull, they would like to see more private-sector and non-government agencies visit the community and assist with social-intervention activities.