Charges against Latoya Nugent dropped

Latoya Nugent of the Tambourine Army has been relieved of the charges against her, as I wrote about for the Guardian here.

She pled not guilty to the three charges and the Deputy Public Prosecutor dismissed the charges due to a lack of evidence. Here is Latoya’s social media post on the matter:

I was officially charged in court today for 3 counts of using a computer for malicious communication. Yes. TODAY😂😂😂
The 3 counts:
Against Paul Thompson
Against Canute Thompson
Against Livingstone Thompson

I was asked to enter a plea on each count. I pleaded not guilty on all 3 counts.

Yanique Brown Gardner from the DPP then made a no evidence submission to the judge and asked for a discontinance.

Case dismissed.

As a #RetiredLesbian this feels like a gift on this International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

DPP Paula Llewelyn was also in court and outlined a bag a tings about why they were discontinuing. I suspect she wasn’t pleased, but I could be wrong.

[side note] My favourite part of the DPP’s long speech was when she referenced my ‘expletives-laden’ email to Canute’s lawyer. She noted that while my response may have been disrespectful to say the judge’s mother or her own mother, it was not obscene.😂😂😂

In all the comments in court today from the DPP, the judge, and Canute’s lawyer, I was reminded of how unkind Jamaica is to women and girls, and that as a people we first disbelieve victims and survivors of sexual violence. I was reminded of why the #TambourineArmy is so radical because we believe and stand with survivors.

Survivors, don’t you ever forget that #StellaStandsWithYou and the #TambourineArmy will always be #StandingWithSurvivors.

I will not be silenced.
You will not be silenced.
We will not be silenced.

Here’s to the #UnsilencingOfWomen


“Trough” hits JA, widespread flooding

It rained for over 24 hours. Much of the island was flooded, and schools were closed in Kingston. The Prime Minister enacted emergency procedures. He was off the island until late yesterday but apparently took control of the situation on his return. These are pictures from some community journalists I am working with on a project from different parishes. They have been documenting the damage caused by the rain. It is still raining today, although it is a light drizzle.

Climate change will hit Kingston first


IMG_4387As the rain pours and we are under flood watches, this seems an ideal time to show this map from a Washington Post story. It illustrates the effect of climate change in cities around the world. Kingston, JA, does not fare well, even if we moderate our behavior to reduce carbon emissions. Check it out here.


Logos Hope Ship


On Sunday we went to visit the Logos Hope Ship. It is a cruise ship that travels the world, selling books at reasonable prices. It was a cloudy, drizzly day, which suited the visit, except for the mud. There weren’t too many people there, and we even got in free as we had to wait for them to clear the water on the deck.

Once inside, we were treated to a video about the ship. Staff are volunteers and come from 60 countries, including Germany, South Korea and South Africa. They are a Christian-based organization that dock in different countries for several weeks and also perform community service.

We got a lot of children’s books, including an atlas and dictionaries, as well as a couple of management books for my husband. It was a nice experience and my daughter certainly enjoyed being surrounded by both the ocean and all those books.

Charges against Gabre Selassie dropped

Charges have been dropped against Karlyle Lee, the popular proprietor of the weekly Dub Club event otherwise known as Gabre Selassie, after he was charged with a noise infraction on Apr. 23.

All charges have been dropped, and Lee’s police permit was reinstated, as confirmed by Barbara Makeda Blake Hannah. Lee yesterday said that the event was in danger of shutting down after police refused to reinstate the permit.

Here is the backstory to this event:

It was a regular Sunday evening at “Dub Club,” a weekly event in the hills overlooking Kingston. Fragrant ganja smoke wafted, bass from reggae music throbbed, vegetarian food was consumed and patrons from around the world enjoyed the vibe. That is, until about 10:30 p.m., when police showed up as a result of a noise complaint. They demanded a permit for the event.

Karlyle Lee, the organizer for the event, which has been lauded by the Lonely Planet as a “gem” of Kingston, had the requisite permit, just not on his person. As a result, he was arrested for breaching the Noise Abatement Act. He was pepper-sprayed and his belongings were confiscated. “I feel violated, and honestly, if I could just get some kind of help to protect this kind of nation-building event,” Lee says.

Meanwhile, bass and music from “Carnival”, a colourful road march with Trinidad roots in which skimpy costumes are donned and soca music blasted, was raging until the wee hours of the morning. There were no major incidents or arrests, says Jamaica Constabulary Force spokeswoman Stephanie Lindsay.

This disparity in treatment by authorities has sparked a debate, with some claiming that there are “two Jamaicas” in which uneven application of laws target solely Jamaican cultural events. Entertainment and Culture Minister Babsy Grange called Lee’s arrest in a statement “unfortunate” and said it sends the wrong message.

“Gabre Selassie (Karlyle Lee) is an icon who has dedicated and promoted roots-reggae music for all these years, so he deserves recognition for his consistent support of our indigenous Jamaican culture,” Grange said.

“Some people do feel that there is a sense that there are two Jamaicas,” says Joan Webley, a lawyer and member of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. “Why was it a problem for them to be going until 10:30 p.m. and Carnival is going on all night?”

Jamaica’s existing legislation governs noise levels and cultural events, but critics say it is outdated and tied to colonial rule.

Dr. Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Director of the Institute of Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, says that indigenous music events are not given the same treatment as imported events. “For me, there is evidence to suggest that foreign imports such as Carnival have been given red carpet approval in terms of permits and sponsorship,” she says. “There is a history of adversarial encounters with police for events and types of music that are predominantly indigenous to Jamaica, like dancehall and reggae. In the last 15 years, there have been more ‘lock-offs’ of dancehall events and police intervening.” At the root of it, Dr. Niaah says, is a deep disregard for all things indigenous, and that is a sentiment that pervades from the wreckages of slavery.

Dancehall and reggae event promoters concur.

Earl “Chinna” Smith, a musician and Rastafarian who used to play with Bob Marley and the Wailers, hosted a weekly party and jam session until too many encounters with police as a result of noise complaints discouraged him. “It is worse now,” he says of police interference. “I just stopped,” he says, referring to the weekly events. “The government needs to figure out a plan for the Rastafarian culture, as it is the only culture here.”

For Jason Simpson, a booking agent at legendary sound system Stone Love, police visits are just a regular occurrence. “It’s just the usual,” he says. His permit allows the event to continue until three a.m., but police show up like clockwork to ensure the music will be shut off. “Sometimes it’s a bit discouraging,” Simpson says. “You see them come and they want to turn you off, and you know you’re not disturbing anything. I don’t know why they target us, even when you have your permit, they’re still pressuring you.”

Jamaica has long attempted to balance the need to celebrate culture and recreation with the need for regulations, but Dr. Niaah says the current laws have been adapted from Europe, which does not reflect Jamaica’s culture.

Kingston Mayor Delroy Willams says the incident that occurred at Dub Club is unfortunate and does not reflect the relationship that authorities want to encourage with cultural event promoters and patrons. “This sends the wrong signal. We are interested in imaging the city as a tourist destination, and an entertainment capital, but law and order is also important to us.”

Barbara Blake Hannah, who was in contact with both Minister Grange and Lee throughout the ordeal, was concerned about how this incident reflected on Jamaica. “It’s ironic that a city that has received the UNESCO commendation as a ‘City of Music’ may now become silent under the watchful eyes of the Jamaican police force. Some solutions will have to be found and all parties must sit down together and find those solutions. No more can we play Bob Marley’s famous song “I want to disturb my neighbour.”