Men sweating as if they are working on construction sites muscled their way through sections of west Kingston, Jamaica this morning, reinforcing barricades to keep out members of the security forces.
From one end of the city vehicles roll up to the blockages with great regularity, unloading passengers. But these are no ordinary commuters. They are men, who neighbouring residents say, are being imported to strengthen the arms of thugs who are preparing to defend their leader Christopher Dudus Coke with their life.
As the early morning sunlight hit against shrubs and tombs in the nearby May Pen Cemetery, a few women, some with toddlers on their backs made their way from behind the blockages leaving Tivoli Gardens for safer abode. The west Kingston enclave has been preparing for battle since justice minister Dorothy Lightbourne signed an authority for extradition proceedings to proceed against Coke, their don.
Men have mounted sand bags on some of the barricades and in some instances have filled old refrigerators with sand, a sign they are preparing for battle. Several large tyres have been transported into the community in trucks. This morning one elderly woman who was walking towards one of the blockades protested that she has been forced to endure life in Tivoli Gardens without water and frequent interruption in power supply.
“Why dem nuh leave di big man alone. After wi caah go a fi dem country go weh wi want,” the elderly woman said in an obvious attack on the United States who have requested that Coke be extradited to face guns and drug trafficking charges. As our news team looked on, men adjusting the blockade sent stern warnings that no cameras are welcome.
“Get it right or else a unno wi a go tun pon next,” one set of men warned as they passed a contingent of journalists on a section of Spanish Town Road. Another group of men who were using motor cars to mobilise instructed that the press should “leave”. Just before noon today, the Jamaica Constabulary Force said the barricading of the Tivoli Gardens community as “an act of cowardice on the part of selfish criminal elements mainly Coke.”
“These criminals are not to be confused with the decent law abiding citizens of Tivoli Gardens who want to get on with their lives as free citizens in a peaceful community and country,” the police added. The Police have asked that Coke hand himself over to the nearest Police Station for the warrant of arrest to be executed.