Tue | Mar 21, 2023

Goodbye, Chieftin

Victoria Town gives tearful farewell to mobbed community stalwart

Published:Thursday | June 30, 2022 | 12:05 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
A photo of Chieftin Campbell on display at Victoria Town Primary School in Manchester.
A photo of Chieftin Campbell on display at Victoria Town Primary School in Manchester.

With tear-stained faces, regret and anger, hundreds bade their final farewell to 61-year-old community stalwart Chieftin Campbell on Saturday.

Campbell, who returned from Kingston in 2013 to live in his childhood district of Victoria Town in south Manchester, had his life snuffed out after he was mistakenly identified as a thief, and later attacked by a large crowd in Mandeville, seven weeks ago.

Campbell, according to police reports, was found in the midst of a crowd with a bloody nose on Friday, May 6, along the Manchester Road, by police who were on foot patrol.

He died while receiving treatment at the Mandeville Regional Hospital, less than an hour after being transported there.

The autopsy later indicated that he died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

His death has not only left a void in the hearts of residents who once felt his warmth, but more so his three children, two grandchildren, relatives, close friends and fiancée of 30 years, who he was scheduled to marry days after his tragic end.

Commanding officer of the Manchester, Police Superintendent Lloyd Darby, who was present at the funeral service at the Victoria Town Full Gospel Assemblies, said the police continue to grapple with persons who cannot find peaceable means to deal with conflicts.

“The issue of persons taking the law into their own hands, usurping the process of the judicial system continues and in this situation it was made worse by where it happened, right in the town of a Mandeville.”

Taxi operator Orlando Powell has since been charged for the fatal mob beating.

He was subsequently brought before the Manchester Parish Court and offered bail in the sum of $500,000.

Darby said efforts are still being made to identify other participants in the mob attack.

Campbell, who was a member of the board of the Victoria Town Primary School, was hailed by the institution’s principal, Nadine Williams-Chambers, as one who consistently dedicated time and resources to the school’s development.

“Mr Campbell loved us at Victoria Primary and Infant. Once we gave him a call he would come running. He had the school’s best interest at heart. He made contributions of stationery supplies to the school on more than one occasion and there is not one person at [the school] that has a bad thing to say about him. He showed us respect and that was also reciprocated,” Williams-Chambers said.

Not only was Campbell said to be respectful, but he was described as an honest and just man, who could never have fit the description of a thief, as he was wrongfully accused.

Gospel recording artiste Jodian Pantry said, “Blacks”, as he was affectionately called, operated a taxi service in Kingston and became her designated driver shortly after her run in the Digicel Rising Stars Competition.

She detailed an incident where she went to a store in downtown Kingston, mistakenly left her purse and later alerted Campbell, who then took her back to the store and all around Kingston, when her efforts of finding it were futile.

“He said, ‘You see a rope round a di back?’ He said that if he found her (the woman believed to have stolen the purse) he would have tied her up and taken her to the police station.”

It could have been these traits that caused Campbell to successfully apply for the Jamaica Constabulary Force, in his early life, after graduating from the Jose Marti High School.

But that dream of becoming a police, according to his friend of more than 52 years, Patrick Reid, was cut short after he received a letter of dismissal for travelling to Cuba, while completing the preliminaries for police training school.

He said Campbell was a simple guy who loved cologne and sunglasses and earned a living from providing a delivery service of barrels from the wharf for his friends.

“That’s how much of a hard worker and trustworthy person he was. They only killed the flesh, but your soul lives on. Justice will be served, because I believe in justice,” Reid said.

Campbell was eulogised by his sister, Florence Jarrett-Dunkley, as one who loved family, but was unfortunately not able to feel that love in his last moments on earth.

“May 6 had some gruesome minutes for Chieftin, and he is not able to say the length of minutes now as sadly they took his life.”

As she poetically replayed what her brother experienced during the ordeal and possibly said in his last moments, Jarrett-Dunkley stated that it has not been easy coming to terms with the tragic loss of her brother, just weeks after burying their mother.

She, however, stated that the family is trying to be strong, while looking to God for justice.

“Leave it all to Jesus ... vengeance is his,” she said.