Women living on Fourth Street in Trench Town, Kingston, who allege that they have been marked for death by gunmen engaged in a gang feud running for more than a year, say they are not only fearful about the threats to their lives, but that the conflict will not end as their sons and other male relatives have vowed vengeance if they are killed.
“Mi son look pon mi and tell mi say, 'Mommy, if dem kill yuh, mi a go tek up gun.' My 17-year-old look pon mi and tell mi dat,” one mother told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Another mother, who said her name is reported to head the list of targeted individuals, speculated that the conflict would not end since her male relatives have vowed to take revenge if she is killed.
“My name deh a di top a di list fi dead. Mi tell di police dem say if mi dead, mi have nephew and son who say dem a go murder dem back,” she said.
The women, who asked not to be named, expressed frustration about the spate of reprisal shootings in the community that have claimed the lives of two residents since the start of the year.
“A years now dah war yah a gwaan. Mi tired a dis now,” cried a mother of two, who said she, too, was on a death list.
She said that men from warring gangs living at opposite ends of Fourth Street have been engaged in tit-for-tat killings since last year, and that her name is now on a list of people being targeted in a planned retaliation for the shooting death of a woman in the community on Saturday.
“Dem seh dem want five-woman fi di woman weh dead, and my name deh pon di list. People hear dem a talk and tell mi. Mi supposed to carry mi likkle two-year-old baby go school dis morning and mi couldn't go,” said the woman.
The woman said she recently stayed with other friends and family outside the community, but had to eventually return home.
“Di whole a mi furniture dem mash up because mi have fi a move and stay a other people yard. Yesterday mi a come and people a tell mi say mi nuh fi go home,” the woman said, tears brimming in her eyes.
Another woman explained that residents on both sides of the street are being targeted, either because of familial connections to members of the warring gangs — known as Socks and Brooklyn — or just for the mere fact of where they live.
“We up here so have family who a sling gun, and people dung deh so have family who a sling gun. We, as woman, look out fi wi pickney when we see police a come, and dem up deh look out fi dem pickney when police a come. We up here so say Socks, and dem dung deh so say Brooklyn,” said the woman.
Senior superintendent of police in charge of the Kingston Western Police Division Michael Phipps told the Observer that the gangs have been at war for more than a year.
“The gang feud started from around 2019, and the information is that it started as a result of a missing firearm. [There has been] an intensification of the conflict in recent times between two main gangs in the space, the Socks gang and another which is known as the Brooklyn gang. We have information that these persons are hell-bent on creating problems within the space, and as such we have embarked on a curfew which started on [January 7], and we have since asked that it be extended.
“In addition to that, we have also dedicated patrols within the area. We are in partnership with our JDF (Jamaica Defence Force) counterparts, where we seek to do lots of targeted raids and other policing activities within the space.
“There are a number of persons there that we have been searching for. We have found some persons and we continue to look for others. So we will be there until the problem of crime within the area is brought under control,” said Phipps.
He said he was not aware of the list with names of targeted people, but encouraged residents to give the police any information they have regarding death threats.
“I know that there is information suggesting that persons who are connected to different sides have been at risk, so we are trying to do some target hardening around these persons. So I am asking that these persons, once they have information that there is any threat on their life, or the life of anybody that they might be aware of, they should tell us so that we can treat with it instantly.
“Our policing efforts will be continuous in that area. We have dedicated patrols — both overt and covert patrols — and, of course, we will be partnering with our JDF counterparts to execute policing activities within the space,” said Phipps.
The gang feud has also taken its toll on business activities in the community which attracts visitors to the world-famous Culture Yard, where reggae legend Bob Marley once lived.
“You can't have visitors going there in peace. The violence has impacted those activities in the community,” Phipps said.
A 6:00 pm curfew, which started in the community last Thursday, is scheduled to end 7:00 pm today.