Crime dampers Christmas cheer of some St. James residents
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It’s the Christmas season, and for many Jamaicans this means festivities, family bonding, joy and peace.
But, only for some people, as residents of several crime plagued communities, remain worried about their safety .
Since the start of the year, Jamaica has recorded 1,349 murders.
St. James leads as the division with the highest number of murders at 185.
The parish has long been a hotspot for murders and for 2023, there have been a number of mass killings.
As a result, rolling States of Public Emergency, SOEs have been declared for the parish.
Despite this, murders continue in communities such as Irwin, Salt Spring, Mount Salem and Cornwall Courts.
It is for this reason, why many residents are not feeling the joy of the season.
One woman who requested that her identity be concealed, said there is no Christmas for her this year.
She said she does not even feel safe going outside.
She expressed concern that criminals are rampant in several communities including Salt Spring.
The St. James woman said the blatant daylight killings have caused her to have sleepless nights and to fear leaving her home.
Her concern is not an individual one, as Member of Parliament for St. James Southern Homer Davis has acknowledged that the spate of killings is a growing concern for many residents, even amidst an SOE.
He described recent shootings which left at least 6 people dead within a three day period this month, as community terror.
Among the deceased was a 14-year old Anchovy High school student Randino James.
Randino was killed in Montpelier on Friday December 8, while sheltering from the rain at a bar.
His killing drew widespread condemnation from citizens all across the island, including Mr. Davis, who decried the murder of children.
And some children in the parish said Grand Market for them will not be the same due to the crime and measure declared to curb it.
Another said he may engage in other activities in the parish, but may not attend Grand Market.
Meantime, Head of Operations for St. James Superintendent Eron Samuels said while the SOE is reaping some success, and more lawmen will be on the streets during the holiday, persons especially children who are looking forward to Grand Market tomorrow, will have to settle for less festivity as tight measures will be in place.
Some members of the business sector are surprisingly not daunted by the news of tighter measures.
In fact, President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, Oral Heaven, has welcomed them.
He said criminals will not be allowed to steal Christmas.
And the church community in St. James has admitted that the level of crime and violence is keeping some people away from attending services.
However, First Elder of the Mount Salem Seventh-Day Adventist Church Erica Barnett said her church will be spreading the gospel during and beyond the season.
She said criminals will not prevent this.
Elder Barnett is urging persons to attend the church this holiday season.