In a day-time raid on Ash Wednesday March 5, (ironically, a religious holiday marking the beginning of the Christian sacrificial season of Lent) officers from the New Kingston police post swooped down on the gutters running beneath the commercial district and demanded that the several youth who lived there had to leave immediately. The youngsters were understandably upset and some put up quite a struggle as they literally have no where else to go. Police had already chased them from every abandoned building they previously occupied and the buildings were then torn down.
The kids are afraid of going to the few government shelters because of the abuse they experience there.
Some of the youth were arrested for resisting their forcible eviction. They were also charged with using swear words (still an offence under Jamaican law).
When the youngsters were brought before the court on Friday, March 7, the judge fined them for the so-called "calumnious language" but also advised the police that the sewers are a public space. Hence the youngsters have every right to be there. With no other options, the kids have simply returned to living in the sewers.
Dwayne's House paid the small fines for some of the arrested youth. See information about Dwayne's House in this link: www.dwayneshouse.info
A proper transitional facility is urgently needed not some half way house and should have been in place especially since the thrust for rights and recognition is very public with a face or faces to it; the obvious fallout should have been prepared for but so much for pro-activity. The ongoing Enterprise Training by Aphrodite's PRIDE Jamaica and allies for same gender loving women, transgender and former displaced MSM is helping a few but not nearly enough as it ought to as funding is limited and the idea has not gotten the full support by more powerful advocates as they have no part in it in the first place, a problem that has affected interventions for years wherein said powerful folks once they are not benefiting (especially financially) in some way from those activities they do not participate or volunteer their expertise or time but are quite to jump on the public relations band wagon while the real front line work for meaningful improvement for those affected by homo-negativity are for "lessers" in the scheme of things. A noted Jamaican attorney made note of the Imperialistic nature of Jamaican LGBT advocacy recently posted on this blog: New Imperialists in Pink, big fish and likkle fish I guess.
The subtle dishonesty continues in the coverage of this matter by those behind the 76 crimes especially in their latest post: Judge rules for LGBT youths living in Jamaican sewers my comment under that entry was "the ones that are living in the gully were NOT the same set that was chased from the Millsborough house (video) that was demolished in fact those fellas were some of the residents of the previous Safe House Pilot 2009 that was closed by JASL's board your friend Maurice included) and they were put out to pasture but honesty in all this is far from coming through"
the previous Jamaica AIDS Support for Life office site (Upper Musgrave Avenue) where the Safe House pilot sat and was closed: Homeless MSM to feel the pinch as JASL issues ultimatum December 2009 where it all started downhill.
The gully just a year and a half ago prior to the men moving in, also see: Star News sensationalizes male commercial sex worker issues .............
and: The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes (February 6. 2010)
Then came another nicely worded piece by the lawyer Maurice Tomlinson on the backdrop of HIV vulnerability where it read: "Jamaica's rigid historical class structure, based on the concept of "field slave" vs. "house slave" is alive and well. Sadly, the modern "house slaves" can't seem to get that the violent clashes which marked our troubled slavery past are once again on our doorsteps. This time, the revolts take the form of visible physical violence and property crimes as well as the invisible threat of HIV."
Take note of my own house slave etc. inference above intellectual dishonesty is one of the reasons why we have not been able to gain much acceptance as well in Jamaica as same has been employed every now and again in the narrative in the name of seeking rights.
Peace and tolerance
The Safe House Background
Homeless impatient with agencies over slow progress of promised shelter