See the report submitted to The Jamaican Blogs™ below and share your views in the comments.
When I awoke on the morning of November 22, 2014, I had no reason to think my day would run counter to any other normal day in a place that I am proud to call my home, a place that I altruistically promote and market; St. Ann, Jamaica. I am a 29 year old law abiding Jamaican who was born in the parish of St. Ann, and who has resided in Brown’s Town for the past 10 years. I have the utmost respect for myself, my community, my parish, my country, its laws, and those who are tasked with the arduous undertaking of enforcing them.
For the past five years, I have operated a blog whose sole focus is the parish of St. Ann and its citizens, both locally and in the Diaspora. This blog has overtime become popular and influential. Subscribers rely on the blog for news, events, discussions and nostalgia relative to the parish of St. Ann.
Due to the dedicated following and consistent sustained interaction by subscribers, the blog has proven to be an effective medium that I have used to successfully promote the parish, local businesses and tourism. The blog also utilizes photographs of everyday life, the environment, activities and people to add a visual element to the message of pride in Jamaica’s largest parish, world-famous for its awesome scenery, vibrant culture and spectacular heritage.
It has been lauded as a source of pride by so many people who have never seen or heard of their communities and districts anywhere outside of their awareness. It has instilled civic pride in residents locally and internationally and has brought awareness to issues affecting our communities while steering clear of the political maelstrom.
My motivation has been simple, the love and welfare of my community, my parish, and, congruently, my country. The only payment I have ever yearned for is to see my country better than it was on the preceding day.
November 22, 2014 was anything but normal for me in a place that I affectionately refer to as “The Garden”. I was arrested and charged with “Obstruction of Justice”. My action that ran afoul of the law? Taking a photo …standing in excess of 20 feet away from civil servants who were talking to a vendor.
I have always used photos extensively to strengthen messages on my blog. One such message is for vendors to always use the spaces and facilities that are designated for vending. A photo of officers talking to a vendor a few feet from his handcart would have been perfect for a message acknowledging the work of the JCF and reinforcing this message. One officer thought otherwise.
I was approached and addressed by the young officer who asked “Did you just take a picture?”
I answered, “Yes sir, is it illegal to take a photo?”
I am still shocked as to what happened next. His reply to my question was, “Hey bwoy delete mi picture outta yuh phone”.
Surprised, I asked again if I had done something illegal, simultaneously pocketing my phone.
What happened next in order of events:
– I was frisked, questioned and escorted to the police station.
– My left hand was handcuffed, suspended to a shelf over my head for 3 hours. The entire duration that I was in custody.
– I was verbally castigated, searched and questioned again.
– My wallet and phone were confiscated, searched without my consent and photos, files and documents were erased.
– I was denied a phone call to contact my lawyer.
– I was denied station bail.
– My family arrived and started the bail process.
– Bail process completed and the officer on duty “joked” that there are no keys to open the handcuff.
– The keys were produced and handed to a second officer who “joked” that she cannot open the handcuff because she has Chick V in her wrist.
– A few moments passed before she removed the handcuff. I said “Thank you” and exited the station.
The Mission of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and its Auxiliaries is to serve, protect and reassure the people in Jamaica through the delivery of impartial and professional service aimed at:
- Maintenance of Law and Order
- Protection of Life and Property
- Prevention and Detection of Crime and
- Preservation of Peace
At no point was my conduct a threat to the maintenance of law and order. At no point was my conduct a threat to anyone’s life and property. At no point did my conduct prevent the detection of crime and the preservation of peace.
Additionally, at no point did the members of the JCF with whom I had contact throughout this experience extend service, protection or reassurance to me, a law abiding citizen of Jamaica, nor were they impartial or professional.
To date, I have searched the archives of our laws and I am yet to ascertain which law(s) I ran afoul of, and what code of conduct permitted my arrest and the destruction of my intellectual property that were unrelated to the incident. At no time was I informed of which law(s) I had broken. And, at no time was I informed which justice my conduct was in contravention to which necessitated and warranted my arrest for “Obstruction of Justice”.
As I am a law abiding citizen, and wish to remain so despite this sorrowful experience, I am diligently searching to unearth the answers to the aforementioned questions as I must now defend myself against this charge. Also, I have every intention of staying on the right side of the law, and would not like to unwittingly subject myself to a repeat of this experience.
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