Announcing: Jamaica Blog Day – May 23, 2013
At the end of last year I began to wonder whether Jamaican Bloggers couldn’t begin something similar to Blog Action Day: a day on which we all blog about one topic. Only the topic would be the same; each post would approach the topic as the blogger decided. By January I decided to email the Blog Action Day team for some information and help. I got a confirmation email and promise of follow-up but nothing happened for weeks. While I waited, I jotted down some notes and made a preliminary list of Jamaican bloggers I would reach out to for help with running things. But then I set the idea aside to focus on some other things; I got “busy.”
A week or so ago I saw a tweet from Annie Paul
Soliciting Jamaican bloggers to join in campaign against police brutality by producing blogposts on the subject on a given day...
(@anniepaul) March 25, 2013
Soliciting Jamaican bloggers to join in campaign against police brutality by producing blogposts on the subject on a given day...—
It was around the time that groups, led by Rastafarians, were marching to remind us about those Jamaicans (many of them Rastafarians) who were murdered 50 years ago on Good Friday, the Bad Friday that’s known as the “Coral Gardens Incident.” I responded to Annie that I would participate. And I decided that this could be an opportunity to get the Ja Blog Day started so I sent her that long overdue email and asked whether we could combine efforts. We agreed and settled on an initial date for the posts (April 11). But then I also decided to follow-up with the Blog Action Day folks…and they began responding (they too had gotten busy) and providing really helpful information and support. Karina has been awesome and I’m grateful. Ja Blog Day will be promoted through one of Blog Action Day’s related accounts but it remains “ours” and something I hope will be an annual, long-standing day of action for Jamaican bloggers.
Today the date for the first Ja Blog Day was changed to May 23, 2013. There are two main reasons, as I explained on Twitter earlier today
Alice Clare (@cucumberjuice) April 04, 2013
Alice Clare (@cucumberjuice) April 04, 2013
For those who don’t know, in May 2010 the now infamous Tivoli Incursion or Massacre happened. Almost three years later there is still no report, explanation, or barest indication of care for or about the 73+ people who died during that harrowing week. The state of emergency that preceded the advance into Tivoli Gardens was announced on Sunday, May 23, 2010 by then-Prime Minister Bruce Golding, a week after announcing that the GOJ was (finally) taking action on the months old extradition request for Christopher Coke.
The topic for the first Ja Blog Day on May 23 remains Jamaican police abuses and brutality. It’s fair to say that “police” here means “security forces.” This is a touchy topic. Many people may be resistant to speaking up and out about this issue because they’re afraid but the plain fact is that in Jamaica there are far too many and frequent questionable incidents involving the security forces and civilians. Sometimes it’s blatant as with Ian Lloyd, an incident that inexplicably isn’t dealt with appropriately by the justice system, other times it’s incredulous events as with Vanessa Kirkland, other times it fits the won narrative of men escaped to nearby bushes [and a search ensued,] after which the men opened fire on the police who returned fire killing the men; spent shells and a .375 revolver or semi-automatic was recovered from one of the bodies. Or something because you’re in the wrong car at the wrong time and in the wrong neighbourhood. Sometimes investigations by INDECOM follow but little seems to come of those investigations if they’re ever completed; the DPP doesn’t seem interested or committed to addressing this problem…or even willing to acknowledge that there is a problem. These incidents are now so frequent. Troubling. Scary for some, angering for others. Worrisome for most.
As I’ve said, it’s up to each blogger how he or she chooses to address this topic on Ja Blog Day on May 23, 2013. There are many ways to approach the topic: What does this continued violence under the guise (?) of providing security say about Jamaican society? What does it say about us (citizens, residents, diasporans, those who care) that we don’t demand better? What does it say about the security forces involved, what effect on them? What of their leadership? What does it say about the Government of Jamaica that it seems content to allow these things to happen, to blame music for crime? What’s the full story behind these incidents? Who are these men and women who’ve decided to join the security forces and why, given the low opinion so many in Jamaica have of them? Are we safe? Do you feel safe? Why or why not?
Many angles. Your choice.
One point: on May 23, 2013 Jamaican bloggers will speak up in a strong chorus about Jamaican police abuse and brutality. There are many of us and our collective action can be powerful. Let’s make it happen.
Ja Blog Day Resources
Twitter (use the hashtags #JaBlogDay” and “#stoppoliceabuse”
Tumblr (bloggers will be able to submit their posts)