Yesterday I had to venture downtown to collect a document. As I wrote about yesterday, the murder trial of dancehall artist Vybz Kartel is ongoing, with the verdict expected any day now. (It is suspended today:
No court tomorrow. A juror has a difficultly. Court resumes on Monday. #KartelMurderTrial
— Emily Crooks (@emilynationwide) February 21, 2014)
As a result, police have blocked off roads and are standing around on corners and setting up tents on roofs and carrying high powered weapons. Or at least this was the way the media presented the situation yesterday.
However, as I made my way down the narrow streets, it was eerily calm and quiet. I’ve never seen it so peaceful downtown, in fact. It is usually a lively, crowded place full of office workers and vendors. There was definitely a strong police presence surrounding the Supreme Court, but the barriers had been taken down. Perhaps this was an attempt to de-escalate the situation, or perhaps it was in response to the fact that it seems the decision will now be delivered next week and today deliberations are suspended, as indicated in the tweet above.
In any case, I retrieved my document and walked over to the Supreme Court to see what was going on. Not much, actually. It looked the way it always does. I then caught a route taxi out of the downtown core, and quickly hit some major traffic. Vehicles were at a standstill, which is not unusual, but I saw the cause: hundreds of children in navy blue uniforms walking, holding signs, chanting and marching.
I abandoned my taxi and started to walk with them. It turns out it is Founder’s Week for the Scout Association of Jamaica. I chatted briefly with one woman walking beside the children, who were walking in rows of three, holding hands and sweating in the sun. They were on their way to the Governor General’s residence and had been walking miles. Literally miles in dark uniforms in the mid-day sun. In any case, it was a delightful diversion and quite a sight to see- hundreds of children walking on Kingston’s main roads, blocking traffic. This is a preferable alternative to roads being blocked by barriers that are erected in anticipation of confrontation between Kartel supporters and authorities should he be found guilty.