Thu | Dec 7, 2023

JON-J offers public apology to consul general, Ja ambassador to US

Published:Monday | August 7, 2023 | 12:07 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

The Jamaican Organization of New Jersey (JON-J) has offered a public apology to Jamaica’s consul general in New York, Alsion Wilson, and Ambassador Audrey Marks for recent comments made by President Emeritus Linval James.

In its letter, sent to both Jamaican US-based diplomats, JON-J said the remarks by James were not only inaccurate, but hurtful to Wilson and Marks and their respective offices.

The apology letter was posted to the organisation’s social media pages, including its Facebook page.

The letter, signed by the president Owen Eccles said, “As an organisation we strive to promote unity, collaboration and respect in the diaspora and at home in Jamaica. Furthermore, these remarks did not accurately portray the partnership that the JON-J organisations has built and enjoys with both these offices.”

It went on to say, “The Jamaica Organization of New Jersey wishes to acknowledge and highlight the fact that both these offices, especially that of the consul general, have been very supportive of the organisation and have partnered with JON-J to provide support to Jamaicans in the diaspora and at home.

“The leadership of JON-J is satisfied, based on dialogue with the member who made the controversial statement that there was no malicious intent or ill-will behind the comments and sends heartfelt apologies for the hurt and misunderstanding caused.”

The organisation said it was looking forward to continued collaborative partnership with the Consulate and the Ambassador’s office.

The office of the ccnsul general in New York had written to the organisation demanding a public apology for the remarks by James that were directed at Wilson and the Consulate.

It all began last Friday during a flagraising ceremony in East Orange to mark Jamaica’s 61st anniversary of independence as well as the 25th anniversary of JON-J.

James was tasked with introducing to the audience the founding members of the association. Instead he used his remarks to attack the consulate and the consul general, accusing the consulate of neither recognising the organisation nor honouring its work.

Patrick Beckford, a founding member of the organisation in attendance, described James’ remarks as “disrespectful” and “distasteless”.

“In my opinion, his utterances were uncalled for and unnecessary and it was not the forum where such matters are aired,” said Beckford.

He characterised James’ remarks as “undiplomatic”, “uncalled for”, and not in keeping with the spirit of the event.

“I did not like the fact that he used such an occasion to say what he did,” said Beckford.

James’ intemperate outburst rose to such a level that it prompted the consulate to write to the organisation’s leadership demanding a public apology.

The consulate has not released the content of the letter, but a spokesman told The Gleaner that this was being done to give the organisation an opportunity to respond in a timely manner and to issue the public apology.

“If this is not done then we will release the full letter to the public,” the spokesman told The Gleaner.

The feeling within the consulate was that the remarks by James was not just unfair, but brought the work of the consulate into disrepute.

“During the COVID pandemic, we worked with JON-J to feed over 600 people in New Jersey so that they would not go hungry,” said the spokesman.

He pointed out that JON-J was responsible for selecting the site and date for the feeding assistance programme and worked alongside the consulate’s representatives to execute the programme.

This was cited by the spokesman as just one of the many instances with which the consulate has partnered with JON-J.