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Rastas to commemorate Coral Gardens incident

Published:Tuesday | March 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
Rastafarians marching in downtown Kingston to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the infamous Coral Gardens Riot of 1963, which resulted in scores of Rastafarians being killed in a major government crackdown.


The 1963 Coral Gardens incident, which saw scores of Rastafarians suffering brutality at the hands of agents of the State, will be commemorated at the Pitfour Nyahbinghi Centre in Granville, St James, tomorrow with a series of activities.

This year's staging of the annual event is being staged for the first time since the Government of Jamaica formally apologised to the victims of the 'state-inflicted violence' and offered to establish a trust fund of no less than J$10 million to the survivors.

Among the persons slated to be in attendance are Minister of Culture Olivia Grange, who will be the keynote speaker; and Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry, who played a pivotal role in getting the Government to acknowledge the injustice done to Rastafarians and the need for a formal apology.

"The public defender will give an update on the process of calculating compensation for the survivors of the 1963 atrocities, and Minister of Culture Olivia 'Babsy' Grange will give the keynote address," said Pamela Williams of the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society, the organiser of the event, which Rastafarians have dubbed 'Bad Friday' because of the injustice which was meted out to them.

"During the day there will be a panel discussion on different aspects of Rastafari Livity, and in the early afternoon the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society will treat the elders in the form of a banquet," said Williams. "It will be a big celebration starting at 10 a.m. and will include a health fair for elders and a fun day for children."

The celebration, which will be highlighted by Rastafarian cuisine, artefacts, art and craft, will culminate with a live stage show.

In apologising for the Coral Gardens incident on April 5 last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the Government deeply regretted the incident, which he said should never have happened.