Hundreds of residents from various communities in St James took part in a peace march along the major thoroughfares in Montego Bay yesterday.
The march, organised by the Youth Organisation for Upliftment and iLove, iLive, iGive Foundation, culminated in a mass rally in Sam Sharpe Square where participants were addressed by Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr and other political, security, religious and civic leaders.
Senator Charles encouraged residents to take on the mantra of ‘We are fed up, but we will never give up’, and to understand that criminals are like bullies, who will only retreat when people stand up as a united force against them.
He said the peace march, which involved mainly young people, sent a clear message to criminals that law-abiding citizens of Montego Bay are moving to reclaim their society.
The state minister said he was particularly pleased about the number of young men who participated in the march, which is a sign that they are making an effort to change the stereotypical view that men are anti-peace.
“What we face in Jamaica and particularly here in Montego Bay is not an issue that started overnight. It’s not a political issue either and it is not something that we are going to solve in one day or two days. It is something that demands an immediate response and a strategic plan of action,” he noted.
According to Senator Charles measures to be taken in Montego Bay include doubling the intake of police trainees, with most of them to be assigned in St James, and focusing on the institutional and infrastructural support in the parish.
Meanwhile, the state minister issued an open invitation to leader of the Youth Organisation for Upliftment and iLove, iLive, iGive Foundation, Aubrey Stewart, to sit with him and other representatives of the Ministry of National Security to discuss crime-fighting initiatives for Montego Bay.
Among the other speakers at the march were Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Glendon Harris, Opposition spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting, former St James commanding officer, senior superintendent of police, Steve McGregor, the current commander, senior superintendent Marlon Nesbeth, and senior superintendent of police, Dermott Lawrence, who read a message on behalf of Police Commissioner, Dr Carl Williams.