Cries for justice

ALBERT TOWN, Trelawny – Dozens of people who gathered Tuesday for a memorial march and candlelight ceremony in honour of raped and murdered 15-year-old Cotton Tree resident Jamelia Cole did not allow rain to stop them.

While the rains delayed the start, and continued for much of the ceremony, those gathered were determined not to abandon their plans.

Some stood and marched in the deluge, placards aloft. There were howls of, “Justice for Jamelia, we need justice!” Strains of songs such as Give Peace a Chance and Romain Virgo’s Dutty Man echoed throughout the event, and tears flowed freely during moving speeches.

A scholarship fund, meanwhile, has been launched in the young girl’s name and there are plans for a monument in her likeness.

“Jamelia’s voice must not be muted. She must never be forgotten. In this manner we hope to always keep the memory of Jamelia,” principal of Troy High School Eddie Whyte told those gathered in Albert Town Square in Trelawny as the scholarship was launched.

The young girl attended Troy High School.

“The scholarship will be presented at our annual graduation exercise to a youth advocate, to a graduate who is disciplined and who champions the rights of the protection and well-being and safety and security of our women and girls,” Whyte said.

“In short, the worthy recipient must be an ambassador for our young ladies, someone who fights against injustice in all of its forms. The school hopes to partner with its stakeholders and those who are listening. You are more than welcome to come and join with us. The successful candidate will receive the invaluable Jamelia Cole trophy and a bursary towards tertiary education,” he added.

Already, chairman of Troy High School’s board and mayor of Falmouth, Councillor C Junior Gager has committed $25,000 towards the initiative.

During the event, president of the Trelawny Justice of the Peace and Lay Magistrates’ Association Kenneth Grant provided details on the monument planned for Cotton Tree.

“This [memory of what was done to the young girl] must be present in the community for the rest of our lives. Every time we drive past Cotton Tree we must remember that, and the only way we are going to remember is that I am suggesting that a monument be built. I am putting the first $50,000 for that monument to be built with a photograph of this young girl and the memory, [so] that every time every taxi man, every private citizen drive past Cotton Tree, you must remember Jamelia and what happened to her,” Grant said.

People’s National Party Region One chair and councillor for Ulster Spring Division Dr Pauline Foster has pledged $150,000. Whyte suggested that the amount be split between the monument and the scholarship fund.

All the speakers called on the residents who have any information on the slaying of Jamelia to speak to the police.

“Our march is a loud protest against injustice, inhumanity, cruelty, mayhem, and wanton barbarity plaguing Jamaica. We are here this afternoon to encourage all of us to say no to the status quo, who see no evil, hear no evil, and will report no evil. We see what is happening in our communities, we see the mess our beautiful and peaceful parish is in, but we must cultivate a vision for what is possible for southern Trelawny instead of being content with things as they are. We must learn to see, to hear, to feel, and to speak out, to say what we know,” Whyte said.

According to the police, a 39-year-old woman, her 15-year-old daughter, and 17-year-old niece were asleep at their home when hoodlums entered the house through a kitchen window on August 6.

The culprits reportedly used blunt instruments to beat the three females in their heads, and 15-year-old Jamelia was raped.

The injured females were transported to Percy Junor Hospital in Spaulding, Manchester, from where she was subsequently transferred to hospital in Kingston. She succumbed to her injuries the following day while undergoing treatment.