Jamaican-Americans Urge ‘Sistah P’ To Make Crime Top Priority

Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Fri. Mar. 31, 2006: Jamaican-Americans across the U.S. are urging new Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, to make crime her top priority. Asked by HBN, nationals from Atlanta to Philadelphia, Washington and New York cited the issue as numero uno as Simpson-Miller took the oath of office yesterday.

Jason Walker, head of the Atlanta-based United For Jamaica organization, said while there are several issues that must be tackled, including trade, education and community development, crime is definitely number one.

Raine Martin, an official with the New York-based JAMPACT organization, agrees but feels that crime is an out-shoot of economic depression and that must be addressed through the boosting of investment.

But Martin warned, “Alleviating crime will take a very tedious, very detailed, multi-faceted, aggressive initiative.”

Professor Clover Hall, who also sits on the board of the Rockland-based group, JAMCAR, like fellow nationals agree that the rising crime rate in her homeland must be tackled. But Hall is especially concerned about the growing violence against children and women, amidst the backdrop this year of the brutal murders of several women and kids. And she’s optimistic that Simpson-Miller will “want to make an impact.”

Crime is also high on the agenda of Philadelphia-based Jamaican national, Chris Chaplin and New York-based national, Bro. Akbar Muhammad of the local group, CAPE.

Chaplin also feels that corruption needs to be addressed but looking to the future, Chaplin added that the new PM would need to increase the emphasis on and investment in primary and secondary education.

Muhammad, like Chaplin, says he’d like to see focus on education but also wants Simpson-Miller to focus on youth unemployment and welfare for the elderly.

Former New York City Councilmember Una Clarke, who calls herself a close friend of the new PM, agrees that crime is number one. But like Martin, feels the issue is related to the economic owes of the country.

“She has to create jobs and attract good investment that will create steady employment,” Clarke said by phone yesterday.

Washington-based national and head of the Institute for Caribbean Studies, Dr. Claire Nelson, however, recommends a shared vision as the solution to help tackle the growing problem of crime and violence.

Still most nationals were optimistic and excited about the installation of the new leader and first female prime minister of their homeland. Hall, however, warned nationals not to expect miracles.

“There are no short-term solutions … so nationals cannot have unrealistic expectations,” said the St. John’s University professor. “I hope people will give her time to settle in.”

Nationals HBN spoke with also urged ‘Sistah P’ to work closely with the Jamaican Diaspora.

“She needs to reach out more to the ordinary Jamaicans in the Diaspora,” said Chaplin. “The Diaspora committees are a good start but are increasingly viewed as cliques. This means putting in place people at the consular level with strong community relationships and credibility.”

Martin agreed, adding there is a need for, “… government and business representatives from Jamaica in the Diaspora that are accessible and receptive to the foreign communities and who will, in turn, engage and involve these community leaders, businesses, and organizations abroad in issues affecting Jamaica.”

But Nelson wants the outreach to the Diaspora to include not just the Jamaican community but the entire Caribbean American society.

She should lend her voice to the Diaspora movement to give us a ear at Caricom, said the ICS head, who’s collaboration at the congressional level helped power through a Caribbean-American month bill that’s awaiting President Bush’ signature to become law.

“We hope for a space for our issues in the U.S. to be address at the Caricom regional level,” said Nelson.

As the first female PM of Jamaica, Simpson-Miller is now also the lone female head of state in the Caricom Community. – Hardbeatnews.com