THE police have hit out against a claim by former head of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG), Gareth Henry, that he and other men were beaten with guns during an incident at Monarch Pharmacy in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew on Valentine’s Day, 2007.
Henry told The Guardian newspaper in England that he was one of three men who were chased inside the pharmacy at a shopping mall in Kingston by an angry mob intent on mauling them
“According to his statement to the commission, the police were called but were abusive when they arrived. One officer asked if he was a ‘batty man’ and then all four policemen began beating him with their guns,” The Guardian report read.
However, Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Area Four George Quallo said that the claim
At the time of the incident Quallo was the commanding officer for the St Andrew Central police division where the pharmacy is located.
“The men were holed up in the pharmacy and the first set of police who went there had to call for back-up. The police came with reinforcements and due to the large crowd had to use tear gas to repel them before taking the men away under a heavy police detail. They had no time to beat the men with guns,” Quallo told the Jamaica Observer.
A few persons in the crowd threw objects as the men were being placed inside a police car, one of which hit one of the men in the head.
The Jamaica Observer was on the scene at the time and had to beat a hasty retreat due to the stinging effect of the tear gas which had the mob, made up mostly of schoolchildren, scampering in all directions.
Quallo said that even after the men were rescued, a large crowd converged on the Half-Way-Tree Police Station and the police kept them inside until the crowd dispersed.
A customer who was in the pharmacy at the time of the incident also rubbished Henry’s claim that he and two other men, who were dressed in drag, were chased into the pharmacy.
“The mob converged on the pharmacy because the gay men had doused a woman with water who spoke to them about their rowdy behaviour. The woman ran out of the pharmacy and told passers-by what had happened. Word spread and in no time a crowd converged at the front of the pharmacy and started shouting, ‘let them out, let them out’. Nobody never chase them into nowhere. They walked inside the pharmacy,” the shopper said at the time.
Henry also told The Guardian that he took over the reins of JFLAG after the murder of its founding executive director Brian Williamson in June 2004. He claimed that Williamson was stabbed to death in a homophobic attack.
However, police records indicate that Williamson was the victim of a gay-on-gay attack.
Williamson’s body was found lying face down in a pool of blood on his bedroom floor. He had multiple stab wounds to his neck.
There were no signs of forced entry to his room.
Desmond Chambers, one of two men with whom Williamson shared the three-bedroom house, told the media at the time that he did maintenance work around the property and accused two men who had visited
the premises earlier of the murder.
According to Chambers, one of the men was a regular guest of the deceased.
“I have seen him here about six times (and) anything him want, Brian give him. Brian give him money, Brian give him food and help him to purchase (newspaper) to sell on the road,” he said.
Dwight Hayden, the man accused of murdering Williamson and who eventually pleaded guilty and was slapped with a life sentence for the crime, had confessed in court that he and Williamson were lovers.
During an interview with the Jamaica Observer in July 2012, former Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green also scoffed at claims by the local and international gay lobby that gays in Jamaica were the victims of wanton murder and marginalisation.
The former Scotland Yard detective said at the time that his statistics showed that the vast majority of murders of gay men were the results of lovers’ disputes and in his experience, only one was not perpetrated by a gay person and that was a case of robbery.
“All of those murders that I have investigated have been in relationships and are victims of gay
attacks, domestic situations,” Green said.