Justice for Keith Clarke?

A short note on the ruling in the Keith Clarke case which found 3 soldiers guilty of killing him along with two artworks depicting Clarke and the scene of his killing.

Poster of Keith Clarke by Michael Thompson
Artistic rendition of Keith Clarke’s murder by Hubert Neal Jr. June 2010

FINALLY there is some resolution of one of the horrific killings of citizens at the hands of agents of the state. The wanton murder of Keith Clarke, an accountant whose home in the hills of  Kingston was mistakenly believed by the security forces to be harbouring the fugitive Christopher Dudus Coke in May 2010, shook Jamaica. Now two years later the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn has ruled that three members of the Jamaica Defence Force are to be charged with the murder of businessman Keith Clarke. For details read this Gleaner article.

In my blogpost of May 27, 2010 I noted details of the attack on the Clarke home:

Well, the Gideon (local slang for Armageddon) continues. Last night it seemed as if things in Kingston had simmered down but this morning i checked into Twitter to hear that the armed forces were lobbing grenades and perhaps bombs at a house in E. Kirkland Heights, a very upscale neighbourhood in Red Hills, Kingston. “The template of violence in jamaica has changed ova d las week. Its now an insurgency with all the relevant weaponry” tweeted one of the people i follow. “I wanna see the police deny this one. Grenades an bombs are the new weapon of choice for the state now.”

While the DPP’s ruling may bring closure to the members of Keith Clarke’s family none is forthcoming for the Tivoli 73, the 73 (some say more) civilians killed during the military incursion into West Kingston on May 23-24, 2010. According to a news interview i heard with Terrence Williams, Commissioner of INDECOM, the body authorized to look into police misconduct, none is likely to be forthcoming either because unlike the Clarke home which was treated as a crime scene and immediately scoured for all evidence available, the environs of Tivoli Gardens were not designated a crime scene (because some claim, the civilian casualties were treated as war crimes), making it impossible two years later to identify the culprits in that massacre.

Of course as Mattathias Schwarz has indicated in his New Yorker article titled A Massacre in Jamaica the US government should be able to help by supplying video footage shot from the air on the day of the massacre by its US DEA Lockheed P-3 Orion plane.

But who knows when that will happen? It seems people in Tivoli Gardens may have to just hug up their losses and move on as far as the government is concerned. For an interesting interview with Mattathias Schwarz on the matter see here.

And in the meantime the DPP’s ruling raises more questions. Concerned citizens are asking how holding three low-ranking soldiers accountable for such a hgihly orchestrated military operation can be considered a credible outcome in this prolonged court case. The Daily Gleaner’s July 19 editorial, excerpted below, says it best:

Justice, in this case, is not only about holding to account the three soldiers who have been accused of firing the shots that killed Mr Clarke in his home more than two years ago. It includes, also, placing the spotlight on the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), so that it can view itself, hopefully with dispassion, and conclude whether it operates in a manner worthy of the public’s trust.

Mr Clarke, it is recalled, was not the victim of random circumstance. His death happened during what was supposed to have been an organised military operation.

…What is not clear is the command and control procedures that governed that operation and the rules of engagement to which the junior soldiers were subject.

The point is that Mr Clarke’s killing happened at a period of heightened tension in Jamaica. Coke was on the run and, in the face of the challenge from his gunmen and supporters, a state of emergency was in force in several parts of the island.

Against that background, we would be surprised if the search for Coke in Kirkland Heights would have been entrusted only to two JDF lance corporals and a private, without the previous knowledge of a significantly more senior commanding officer.

Should we be right, the obvious question that we expect would have been the subject of an internal review by the JDF, as well as part of INDECOM’s investigation, is what role did the commanding officer play in the sequence of events and whether he carried out his duty appropriately. In other words, are there matters for which he should be held accountable?

We believe that these are appropriate questions for which the public deserves answers, lest the cynics claim that juniors have been made fodder after an incompetent execution of an operation.

And so say all of us….

The KD Knight Show (aka the Manatt Commission of Inquiry)

A satirical conversation on the Manatt Commission of Inquiry, excerpted from Facebook…

Las May, Jamaica Gleaner, January 19th, 2011

As the world turns Jamaicans, are glued to the live broadcast of what i call the KD Knight Show, aka the Manatt Commission of Inquiry. A semi-judicial reality show of no mean order Jamaica’s legal heavyweights have finally attained their share of the videolight and boy are they revelling in it. The Inquiry is investigating the circumstances leading to the extradition of  former Don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in June last year.

Manatt/Dudus Enquiry Is Like A Circus Or Talent Show? Clovis, Jamaica Observer, February 15th, 2011

Meanwhile most witnesses called to the stand are tight-lipped and suffering from memory lapses (most notably the Minister of Security, Dwight Nelson). Pity you can’t just plug in extra memory modules to boost their recall. If nothing else the Inquiry has generated some hilarious political satire such as this Facebook conversation below. All names have been changed to protect the identity of the participants.


March 7, 2011

Hear Ye, Hear Ye…we have some Limited Edition Manatt Enquiry stuff for sale….’silent auction’ cos we caan afford wi wake up d ‘Asst Page Turners’…Link me een mi inbox for samples….(ef oono c Dennis Brooks a advertise nuttn no buy e…a teefn goods)…anyways….sen oono credit card come quick cos dem soon done.

LGY We have tings like “I don’t recall” T shirts in Green! “I don’t remember”T-shirts.., IN GREEN! We also have green t-shirts with Dudus face pon di front and a big X through it,and round the back the words “I do not know him”! ALL Green shirts are special edition!

Jamaica Observer, February 20th, 2011 During witness testimony at the Manatt/Dudus enquiry, Minister of National Security, Dwight Nelson, claimed that he did not personally know alleged Tivoli Gardens strongman, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. Clovis.

OD lol…mi want a “It was not clearly in writing” shirt please·

SW We also have T-Shirts dat say “Subjunctive”…an nuff odder tings…we also ave ones dat say “you seem frustrated” (dese will ave Samuda pic on dem)…remember all dese are VERY LIMITED so oono urry up an sen on d money! (u wont regret the purchase)

LGW And we have some orange t-shirt whe sey “I saw the secret MOU”!

SW Yes Yols,,,,in dat dere package we will also have little dolls of the ‘Asst Page Turners’…u can put batteries in dem and dey will speak…albeit slowly but speak they shall…dey will even turn d pages for you & d controls will allow you to adjust d volume so dem can ‘whisper’…now dat oono affi order fast cos dem EXTREMELY LIMITED!!!!

LGY Yes people ah ongle two of dose dolly exist! Order dat now!·

CE Jr I just need the one dat say “Can’t recall”

CW I hear there are hats with”Cant Recall” on them

LGY yes Clyde we have those too! How much you want?

CW nuff as mi acting as agent (duly authorised) for a certain Central Committee

LGY ahright cool!

LGY soon set up your ting!

CW cool, cuz dem seh mi muss mek sure dat people tink seh is a certain Executive Council

LGY ok nuh fret man… it all look like dem, bad spelling and all! ·

CW a now mi wish dis was happening in a merca as di stand comedy circuit would be buzzing daily

CW lol lol lol mi side a at mi

SW Yols…..ef Clydey buy a good amount we can give him two ‘free’ shirt fi good measure…Clyde…u no waan d two dolly dem man?? cho!

LGY eeeh? Buy di dolly dem nuh? How yuh ah move tight suh? Ah mussi yuh name Harold Brady!

CW Whaaphen yuh nuh hab nuh puppets

CW a puppet mi whaan

CW mi whaan mek a gift to some heavy weights

LGY ah dolly we have, dem battery operated and do tings! Not much, but dem do tings!

CW k cuz u know what I know but yuh a gwaan like yuh waan oddas know

SW Clyde…anything u waan wi ave it…we will ‘custom bill’ e for u ongle….puppets we do ave….jus tell wi ow much u waan an mek sure u tek off d 2 dolly dem off wi Hands…u can go sell dem bak pon EBAY an mek NUFF NUFF money cos e price a go skyrocket by year end…wos wen election close!

LGY Yes I know that U know that I know what u know … I’m not daft!

CW dwrl unno have nutten weh mi can gi mis daisy shi seh she whaan gift it to r parson

SW oh…’DOLLY DISCLAIMER’…’Should this toy not meet your specifications or expectations…the manufactures CANNOT be held responsible….please address all concerns in that vein to Jamaica House’ (we do hope you get a response…ef not…hire a good lawyer or commission a COE)

AP or just hire us. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. We are known for our extraordinary commitment to clients, for integrated, relationship-based services, and for a range of specialized capabilities typically found only in boutique firms. We are progressive and entrepreneurial compared to other major firms; and we are deeply committed to diversity, to public service, to involvement in the communities we serve and to excellence in all we do, including how to get around extradition requests…

Of Dog Paw and Leah Tavares-Finson…

Dog Paw and Leah Tavares-Finson are expecting a baby this February. Leah is the offspring of wealth and privilege in Jamaica while Dog Paw is a notorious gang leader. A lengthy interview with Leah is included.

Leah Tavares-Finson Photo: Peter Dean Rickards

When the police finally found Dog Paw in a house at Elletson Flats, he had written, in full anticipation of being killed, a letter addressed to his Mother, his girlfriends, his children and his yet unborn child. That child, due in February, will be born ‘famous’ because her/his other parent will be Leah Tavares-Finson, the daughter of Senator Tom Tavares-Finson and Cindy Breakspeare, the former Miss World who was one of Bob Marley’s most favoured consorts. Bob Marley was the father of Leah’s step half brother (thanks for correction J!), Damian Marley. When her mother Cindy became pregnant for Marley it caused no end of scandal in staid 1970s Jamaica and abroad. A London newspaper carried photos of Cindy and the dreadlocked Bob under the headline “Beauty and the Beast.” In a strange twist her daughter’s pregnancy for an ‘outlaw’ is causing a similar scandal. I found the extraordinary conversation below on an online Dancehall Reggae forum. One marvels at the confidence with which jahblem offers his misinformation in this exchange generated by the fact that Leah T-F is pregnant for Dog Paw:


nuh Cindy Breakspeare dawta dat? and damian marley sister? look like she tek affa har madda, ghetto bwaay shi love…


no…they dont have kids together (tavares and cindy)…i would assume its tavares dawta before he hooked up wid cindy…i could be wrong…but when cindy got married to him they were both old and grey and had kids already from previous marriages.

LOL! Old and gray! Cindy married Tom when Damian was a toddler (she was probably in her early 30s), and went on to have Leah and Christian with Tavares-Finson.

Jamaica Observer, Clovis

Leah is a fascinating character. She may be following in the tradition of her father’s family (which has roots in the so-called garrison community of Tivoli Gardens) by going into politics. Will she herald a new kind of representational politics since she has personally breached not only the uptown/downtown divide but also the legit/illegit one by literally commingling with a Don? After all, Dons are also political representatives, only they are illegitimate ones, informal leaders whose constituencies straddle the world of organized crime and garrison politics. At any rate this young lady is one to watch, in my opinion.

Read more about Leah in the interview below which first appeared in the Style Observer. Her interlocutor was photographer/writer Peter Dean Rickards, of Afflicted Yard fame. The ‘Presi’ referred to in the early part of the interview is Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, reputed to be Leah’s godfather. Her father Tom Tavares-Finson was Dudus’s lawyer. Dudus has since been extradited to the United States on gun and drug-running charges. The “early morning ‘situation’ at a house in Kintyre” referred to is when she was taken into custody from Dog Paw’s house some months ago. Happy reading!

Leah Tavares Finson is no wild child

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Leah Tavares-Finson is the daughter of Senator Tom Tavares-Finson and a former Miss World, Cindy Breakspeare. Her brother Damian Marley is pretty famous too, having copped a few Grammy Awards; so why has she been raising eyebrows recently? For starters, there was the brief MYSPACE message requesting that “Presi” be left alone, followed by an earlymorning ‘situation’ at a house in Kintyre. Leah is adamant, however, that she’s no “wild child”.

SO: Why did you post the message on MYSPACE to leave “Presi” alone?

For those of us who can accept reality, “Presi” is somewhat of a hero and a legend. He has been able to do for West Kingston what so many politicians can only dream of accomplishing. I’m not in a position to debate the means he used to accomplish what he has accomplished, but when all is said and done, he managed to pull off quite a job.

I think I fully understood at the time when I first posted “leave Presi alone” the grave and disastrous repercussions that the nation would face. We have lost more than 80 lives and even if they were not all innocent, I do not accept the term “casualties of war” as a reasonable excuse. I think our country should be deeply saddened by this absolutely unnecessary loss of mainly innocent lives. I know my heart is certainly broken; so you see, in the end it is not really about “Presi” but about the people of West Kingston. They now have to piece their lives back together, overcoming pain, loss and memories of brutality. They must do so without the indisputably strong leadership that they’ve had for so long. I only hope that our political system can provide them with the social programmes, the support and the guidance they need to replace what has been destroyed. REALITY!

SO: Tell us about Leah. Her likes, dislikes, what makes her smile and what makes her sad.

LTF: I’m not a very exciting or excited person despite what people may think. You know there is this idea out there that I am some wild card, but that’s not really true… I love being home. I’m very laidback. I love food, eating out and cooking. Yes, I can cook; my mother taught me well.

I love mango sorbet!

My little sister, Capri, makes me smile. She is quite something; so much smarter than I was at her age. I’m just so amazed when I watch her.

What makes me sad? Seeing a country with so much potential being exploited and abused. The lack of education amongst our people and the lack of opportunities on a whole are depressing.

Sometimes when I feel like I can’t do anything to help my own country (because every aspect of our society is so corrupt), I am sad.

SO: Who (artiste) does Leah listen to?

LTF: Gaza! Vybz Kartel is my artiste. I love my brother’s music, but I suppose where that is concerned most would say I’m biased. Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Aidonia, Busy Signal and Black Ryno. I don’t care who doesn’t talk to whom, respect is due once the talent exists.

SO: Who impresses Leah?

LTF: My brother Damian does. I think he is brilliant. I admire his focus and when I listen to his music I often think: ‘Wow, how did he come up with that?’ He is great.

I think anyone with a very business-savvy head and that drive to fight for what they want in life, regardless of what other people may think and say, impresses me.

SO: And Leah’s take on love?

LTF: Love is good. How could it not be?

As human beings our existence would be doomed if we didn’t have love for one another. We need people with bigger hearts. Love has no boundaries and no colour, and it should be unconditional.

SO: Who does Leah love?

LTF: My family, although it does not 100 per cent include my immediate family; it is not limited to and doesn’t only mean people who have the same ancestral background as I do. I love the people who have loved me unconditionally and have been a constant source of support and strength. They know themselves. The one I smile and laugh with and share my “dramas” with.

SO: What’s the last book Leah has read?

LTF: A schoolbook entitled Words that Ring Through Time. It’s an amazing collection of speeches by various historical figures.

SO: Leah on her mum Cindy Breakspeare and on her dad Senator Tom Tavares-Finson…

My parents are the two most amazing people I know. They are so different from each other but so similar at the same time. It’s pretty fascinating. Despite what anyone has to say, they’ve done a tremendous job raising Damian, Christian and myself, and nobody could ever dispute that. Both Damian and Christian are so wellmannered, so bright, so focused. They are just two well-rounded individuals. And I think they are a reflection of the kind of people my parents are.

My mother is a fighter, strong with a back as broad as the continent of Africa. I admire her ability to improvise and manoeuvre through any situation. My dad has a great sense of humour and he is affectionate and adores his kids. He is a great lawyer and is really what a politician should be all about. Both of them have taught me so much. Things that I am confident in the long run will prove to be my greatest assets and characteristics.

SO: Is Leah the voice of Jamaica’s uptown ‘white and restless’?

LTF: Absolutely not!

The correct definition of restless is to be worried and uneasy, and although that does define a part of my personality I don’t at all think it defines all uptown ‘whites’. I am the voice of people who care and people who want to help, and whether that means white, black, orange, uptown, downtown, or round town, it nuh matter. The quicker we put this uptown/downtown division behind us is the better off we will all be as a nation.

SO: Leah rocks… what’s Leah’s style?

LTF: Does she? I don’t think I rock at all! Anybody who knows me well knows that I am not a fashionista. I wear what is comfortable and practical for my lifestyle, and anything other than that you would have to ask my mother about because she is the one who dresses me when I look half decent.

SO: What’s next for Leah?

LTF: Finishing up school. I’m getting a degree in Political Science, after that…I really haven’t decided. My family business here in Jamaica, DC Tavares & Finson Realty Ltd is one of my options. It’s currently run by my uncle William whom I admire a lot and would love to work with! Maybe politics… we will see.

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