Double Standards Redux…

Double standards in Jamaican media: an update on the X6 killer, Chinese restaurant in mandeville etc

Excuse us while we crow a bit!

Well, well, well–how interesting! An article in today’s Gleaner ‘Puzzle over lack of name in X6-killer probe’ follows up on several of the issues raised in my last post without even a nod in the direction of Active Voice. Here’s a quote from that article:

Police investigators probing the death of 17-year-old schoolboy Khajeel Mais have been accused of double standards for their decision not to release the identity of the alleged BMW X6 killer as a person of interest.

Julian Jones-Griffiths, the manager for dancehall star Mavado (real name David Brooks), who has twice been listed as a person of interest, said this move by the police is “unfathomable” given the evidence they have already collected and the haste with which other individuals are identified.

Does any of this ring a bell? Never mind, we won’t take offence, it just goes to show the influence of this blog, that the major newspaper in the island seems to follow in its footsteps. In fact I’ll treat it as a compliment. Thanks Old Lady of North Street!

Meanwhile the Observer carries an article today about a man fitting the description they published yesterday of the putative X6 killer to a T, a Chris Kerr, who wants to establish that he is NOT a suspect in the case. See? This is what happens when you refuse to name the person being investigated by the police; in protecting his identity you expose a wide range of people who superficially fit the description to speculation and innuendo. How does that make any sense?

Similarly in the case of the Chinese restaurant in Mandeville rather than naming the restaurant concerned, after it was established that 14 people fell ill after eating there,  the public was warned to be wary of eating at any Chinese restaurant in the area!

The ‘restaurant of interest’ has attracted far more negative publicity by pulling strings to keep its name from the public than it would have if it had humbly apologized for the incident, reimbursed the patrons who fell ill and paid their hospital bills. At the moment it isn’t clear if those who suffered the consequences of eating contaminated fried rice have been compensated in any way for this. It has also exposed all the Chinese restaurants in the Mandeville area to the suspicion of  patrons who are rightfully wary of eating at any of them.

The threat of being outed in the media is the only recourse hapless members of the public have when they become victims of wrongdoing–even if the damage was unintentional. In a similar case a group of friends who had food poisoning after eating at TGIF in Kingston some weeks ago had to resort to exposing the incident on local media (fortunately one of them is a journalist himself and could broadcast the information on his show without having to rely on the tender mercies of our news media) before they suddenly got calls from the head office in Trinidad and Tobago apologizing profusely and refunding their money including tips! Till then the local management of TGIF had arrogantly refused to refund the money spent!

On a considerably more depressing note the security guard mentioned in my previous post, who was accused of killing his wife and mother-in-law was set upon by a mob who hacked him to death, ‘limbed’ him and burnt the remains. This is the man whose identity the Observer blithely revealed while coyly concealing the name of the person of interest in the X6 killing.

Breaking news:  Yesterday’s post on Active Voice is breaking all previous records for number of hits, with 3,030 page views since this morning. Today has been the busiest day on my blog with a total of 3,720 views, breaking the previous record held by Cake Soap and Creole of 1,167 hits.

Also the Observer is announcing that the suspected X6 killer has been arrested on re-entry into the island. His name however is still being withheld!

The only Jamaican paper with balls–The Sunday Herald

Answers some questions about the owner of the BMW X6 whose driver killed a 17 yr old Jamaican and why his identity is being protected by the media, police, church and government.

November 6, 2011

UPDATE! For readers searching for information about the Sunday Herald you can tune in to my interview with the chairman of the board Rev Garnett Roper  about what’s happening with the Sunday Herald at 9 am Jamaican time on Newstalk 93FM, it streams live on the internet at http://newstalk.com.jm/LiveStream.htm. Back to my July 10 post below….

I’ve been very irregular with updating this blog. Largely this is because in February this year I started doing two weekly radio programmes, Double Standards and The Silo, on Newstalk 93. Coupled with my full time job at the University of the West Indies this leaves me with very little spare time. Something had to give and alas, its been Active Voice…

Double Standards, which I co-host with Yvette Rowe, a BBC-trained radio and TV broadcaster attempts to give listeners a more in-depth, analytical sense of issues in the news, both locally and globally. We also look at media coverage in general, pinpointing where we think it’s biased or employing a double standard, or just plain inadequate, leaving the public ill-informed, in the dark or providing it with little more than a succession of press releases. In the last week or two there’ve been so many instances of this that we can barely keep up.

For instance the cover page headline in today’s Observer, one of the two main daily newpapers in Jamaica, blares ‘Who is the X6 Killer?’ The question relates to the leading article in the paper, illustrated by the image below, about a killing that has shocked the country.

About two weeks ago Khajeel Mais, a 17-year old schoolboy travelling in a taxi, was shot dead by the driver of a BMW X6 which the taxi had accidentally grazed. In an apparent act of road rage the BMW driver leapt out of his vehicle and proceeded to fire at the taxi, which turned and tried to flee. One of the bullets entered the head of the unfortunate 17-year old killing him immediately.

Since then it has emerged that the owner of the luxury car is a highly connected businessman with ties to top policemen as well as politicians. No doubt this is why its driver felt empowered enough to attack the taxi in the brazen way that he did. No doubt this is why the major media houses here are scared to name either owner or driver. We don’t even know if they were one and the same or different.

Twitter was abuzz with the news and jokes about the X6, like this tweet: @afflictedyard: For Sale: BMW X6 #migratingmustsell #minordamage

All week long rumours have been flying about the murderous X6 driver to the effect that the man had left the country within hours of the shooting and that a senior cop with connections to the driver had been caught concealing information pertinent to the case. Although the policeman’s name has been mentioned at least once in a television news broadcast I saw, the alleged shooter’s identity, as well as the name of the owner of the car, have carefully been kept from the public in much the same way that the name of a Chinese restaurant in Mandeville, whose fried rice sickened at least 14 patrons, sending some to hospital, has been punctiliously withheld from the public.

What’s the deal here?

According to the Observer:

While the name of the alleged shooter cannot be published because he has not been charged with a crime, there are some things the Sunday Observer can report about him, based on interviews with persons who have intimate knowledge of him.

Clearly the newspaper IS in a position to divulge the name of the suspect, or the ‘person of interest’ to use a technical term, judging by the wealth of detail it goes on to provide about him. He’s “of dark complexion”, is a Canadian citizen and “has deep ties with both major political parties, though he is said to have greater loyalty to the Opposition People’s National Party”.

The murder suspect — who is a real estate developer and who is said to have enormous wealth — is also linked to other major local figures from the criminal underworld, while maintaining “very deep” connections with senior members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The suspect, who over the years has kept a low profile, is said to have real estate developments in several posh St Andrew communities, including Liguanea and Norbrook.

Additionally, he’s said to have developments along Red Hills Road and owns several other multi-million-dollar properties in the Constant Spring area of St Andrew, among others.

He’s also the owner of a private jet.

The claim that the paper can’t publish the name of the suspect because “he has not been charged with a crime” is a crock of shit; this has never kept them from trumpeting the names of other less influential ‘suspects’ who have yet to be charged with a crime. In the very same paper there is another story: Security guard sought in mother-daughter murder:

A security guard is being sought by the Savanna-la-Mar police following the killing of two women and the injury of their neighbour during a dispute in Farm District, Westmoreland yesterday.

The accused has been identified as 25-year-old Roche Tomlinson.

The guard who is on the run, is yet to be charged with the murder, yet the paper boldly tells us his name! (omg! news has just broken that the security guard was killed and dismembered, then set ablaze by vigilantes, wonder if this has anything to do with his name being called?) Similarly some months ago Jamaican media, including the Observer had no qualms about bandying about the names of Vybz Kartel and Mavado when the two were taken in by the police for questioning as ‘persons of interest’ in crimes we are yet to be informed about. Mavado even complained of the resulting damage to his reputation but its not clear what compensation if any he has recieved. The same goes for Kartel who was kept in the lockup for two weeks prompting him to appear on stage at last year’s Reggae Sumfest in handcuffs and prison uniform.

Photo of Kartel: Marcia Forbes
spraggabenz

And only a couple of months ago we heard all over the media that DJ Spragga Benz was wanted for questioning by the police in connection with a triple murder. Apparently nothing came of it because he’s out and about. Has he been compensated for damage to his reputation?  The answer is a resounding NO. Talk about double standards!

Well, guess what? The Sunday Herald names the owner of the car, calmly and without any fanfare, in a short news item titled “Police awaiting forensic tests on BMW X6”. It’s Patrick Powell. Of course we don’t know whether this was in fact the car that was involved in the accident, nor do we know, even if it was the car,  that the owner was driving it at the time of the shooting.

But why is it only the Herald that had the balls to come out and name the owner of the car which is being investigated by the police? That’s what i want to know. More power to them! Again from Twitter: RT @JustSherman: Jamaica Observer and Gleaner couldn’t cross it, but the Jamaica Herald can swim #onlyrealjamaicannewpaper