Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Letter of the Day | We refuse to continue to live as slaves

Published:Thursday | August 5, 2021 | 12:28 AM


THE POLICE cutting of Nzinga’s locks is not purely about an attack on Rastafarians, even though this has been done to them specifically as a group for decades. It is one of the methods of violence used by the State to intimidate the poor and oppressed.

This young lady was pepper-sprayed in a public passenger vehicle which included a mother with a baby, she claims. She got out of the car, took off her mask in order to breathe, and verbally denounced this act of terror on the part of the police. For that reason, she was arrested and fined $6,000 by a judge for disorderly conduct!

The policewoman who cut her locks while she was detained in a cell because she was unable to immediately pay the $6,000, didn’t ask whether she was Rastafarian or not. Many Jamaicans, including the middle class wear locks. In Jamaica’s class society, looks and colour can tell you whether someone is middle or lower class. An Nzinga who looks like Mark Golding would not have been travelling in a route taxi and she certainly would have been able to pay the $6,000 fine immediately.

The police woman cut Nzinga’s locks while claiming in response to her protest that she had left her heart at the gate of the police station. In other words, her actions have nothing to do with respecting the rights of the person being abused. That is what she is trained and paid to do – to drive terror into the hearts of those under police control.

As usual. the response from certain ‘authority’ figures to this, another example of state-sponsored police terrorism, only confirms the methods of impunity for State terrorism. The police commissioner calls for an investigation which he knows is going nowhere. He does not have the moral authority to call for an investigation when he himself needs to be investigated for the numerous police killings which have taken place under his watch. His own police force could easily expose him. Plus, he has said nothing about the terrorist use of pepper spray against the passengers in the route taxi which triggered the rest of what happened.

As for the attorney who has been retained to represent the family, he is once again proceeding with the same error he made in defending the school girl who was excluded from school for wearing locks, by making this matter a Rastafarian or religious matter. Yes, Nzinga is Rastafarian but the little girl excluded from school for wearing locks was not a Rastafarian. Her exclusion on the grounds that her hair might carry ‘lice and junjo’ is merely reflection of the racism that is part of this Government’s policy. What happened with Nzinga is racism and State terror, and it must dealt with as such.

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte who proudly announced that she is prepared to “infringe, abridge and abrogate” our human rights for political purposes, legally defended the racist policies of this school. And she won. No change of policy since.

It is clear, therefore, that Jamaicans urgently need the emergence of a movement led by the poor and oppressed directly aimed at a revolutionary overturn of our economic and political system.

Otherwise, corruption will get worse, the poor will get poorer and State violence will continue to be the weapon of choice to maintain the system of oppression.

In recognition of Sam Sharpe – we must refuse to continue to live as slaves.