Granville marches for peace - Community stages prayer walk and combined church service to invoke divine intervention
Battle-weary residents of Granville in St James made a profound statement against the resurgence of gun violence in their community by staging a prayer walk and combined church service aimed at telegraphing their determination to live in peace.
The event, an initiative of the Granville Peace Justice and Resource Development Foundation (GPJRDF), came against the background of recent shooting incidents that residents fear could once again affect their efforts to engender peace in the community.
According to social activist O. Dave Allen, survivor of a gun attack in the community, the objective of the prayer walk and combined church service two Sundays ago was not only to seek divine intervention but it was a call for action from citizens.
“It is also designed to arouse the conscience and the consciousness of the citizenry in building community cohesion and to join in a people-centred, community-driven, social-intervention campaign to reduce the unacceptable level of violence in Granville,” Allen said.
Last year, 18 persons were shot and killed by criminals in the Granville police area. Currently, there is ongoing tension in the community, particularly in the Back Street section of Gordon Crescent, where a young man was recently shot and killed.
In outlining the vision of the GPJRDF, Allen said the plan is to build partnerships with faith- and community-based organisations, critical stakeholders, the private sector, and state agencies to conduct mentorship, training, counselling, and mediation.
In delivering the message at the joint church service, outspoken Pastor Charles Brevitt, head of the Glendevon Circuit of Seventh-day Adventist Churches, chastised justices of the peace (JPs) who were not sufficiently involved in conflict resolution.
“We need for justices of the peace to become engaged as peace ambassadors working as conciliatory mediator pacifiers and negotiators of peace,” said Brevitt.
He also implored the wider community that they had a stake in the push for peace.
“Those in the community who cannot be so engaged as peacemakers must at least not be warmongers or troublemakers. Matthew 5:9 pronounces a blessing on peacemakers, but implied a curse on those who disrupt the peace,” added Brevitt.
Within days of the march, two men, Keemo ‘Jiggy’ Kerr and Kemoy ‘Beenie Man’ Smart, who were implicated in recent shooting incidents, were killed in a dramatic shoot-out with a police-military team, which they allegedly fired on before making a failed bid to escape.
The prayer walk was led by Pastor Percival Christies and JP Clinton Pickering, while the march included Councillor Michael Troupe, Senator Dr Andre Haughton, and representatives from churches, the St James Lay Magistrates Association, the Peace Management Initiative, the Social Development Commission, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme.