The age old issue of mostly young MSM/transgender individuals has moved southwards along the near three mile stretch of the rain water runoff infrastructure. A police raid yesterday of the area after numerous complaints some of which were hinted to in previous posts had unintended consequences as Half Way Tree Road traffic was held up for a short time as raging members of the homeless argued with angry passers-by while the cops tried to keep the peace. Accusations are that since the persons had been removed from the top end of the Gully in the New Kingston business district proper even after said attempts by another set of cops in December 2014 they returned there but since made to move after comments at a townhall meeting by a former police commissioner was followed up with a raid. Since the persons have shifted their use of the gully robberies have increased nearby and according to the police communication unit several personal effects of persons including drivers’ licenses and so on were said to be in the possession of the persons.
The section along Half Way Tree road seems to be now homeless central also known as Kencot Gully for the most part but this is not new as historically it stood as a living spot for decades from the days when the nearby Northern Caribbean University, NCU previously the Highgate Chocolate Factory corporate offices and the car park for the adjoining art Gallery. The gully which runs into an area of Kingston known as Kencot also featured in early HIV/AIDS interventions in the 1990s when Jamaica AIDS Support, JAS (for LIFE was added way later to its name) had its early offices in the area close to the gully on Osbourne Road. So much so that the early GLABCOM typed meetings and support groups were impacted directly alongside the makeshift hospice care facility also. Populations would seek services from JAS and vice versa as outreach teams conduct street based engagements. So we can conclude history is effectively repeating itself but with way newer blood. Older gay men such as myself who are watching this closely are somewhat baffled yet not surprised as it is telling in some respects or an indictment on aging NGOs who knowing the issues or have years of data sitting on have simply not acted as they ought to meet some of this with a residential type structure however small. There has always been an unease as far as I can remember whenever there is a suggestion that said aging NGOs deal with homelessness directly, for the life of me why I just do not know.
Nationwide radio also carried the story in their newscast and interviewed a man who claimed he was the victim of the persons in the gully who cross dress who said he was approached by one of them who asked for some money only for a weapon to be pulled on him against which he retaliated and attempted to defend himself, he said he tried to box (slap in the face) the person but the exchange ended as the intended party made good his escape.
“I was robbed... coming from a meeting. As soon as I turned the corner, there was a young man that stopped me and said, ‘Goodnight, Sir, can I have your phone, please?’ and I said ‘For what?’ And him reach for a knife and I double my fist to thump him in his mouth, and there was another one behind me who said, ‘Sir, this could be dangerous.’
“When I looked at his waist there was a gun,” Rose continued, lamenting that it is not safe to walk along the road at night.
Rose told the Observer that he believed the robbers were the same residents of the gully as he recognised their “accent”.
With frustration etched on his face, he said the men should be removed from the gully.
“They need to get them out of the area. I don’t care where they want to go. I know at least four persons that have been robbed, including one of my church brothers,” the man said, adding that the homeless homosexuals are “plagues”.
We have been told of fund raising efforts both online and otherwise repeatedly and in some instances campaigns get stuck in limbo or monies go unaccounted for as the effort is stopped midway and no accountability comes forth to say where the monies are or what has it been used for; while the populations stagnate, all kinds of videos and photo shoots have occurred yet the problem has not changed, all kinds of so called artists claim to have launched albums where part proceeds were to go to some yet no proceeds seem to come (or the albums simply have not sold enough) and all this happening as a new wave of incoming from western Jamaica (more historical repetition) linked to lotto scamming as persons either close to or directly involved have found themselves left in the cold as kingpins fall from grace and once cash rich persons cannot ‘take care’ of drag queen broods and so on. Then there is the business of excuses from places such as JFLAG and Dwayne’s House and or Colour Pink groups all who claim they are “registered” NGOs to deal with homeless but claim they cannot find a place to do such, yet the same JFLAG wants all to simply forget the fact that the shelter pilot they watched close without protest before their very eyes was transformed into their then office.
But who cares about the least amongst us really, they are just dregs in the mix as the protected privileged thrive pursuant to ‘LGBT rights’ and yet again the blaring classism stares us all in the face. Some 11 to 14 different proposals were around at the time when the Safe House Pilot project in 2009 was dubiously closed without a truthful explanation yet former board members of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life engage in trifle tokenism claiming to be collecting canned items while obviously using the photos for attention seeking, a practice that thankfully is now being seen by more persons as deceptive. The preying on the homeless is not new but with social media around these days it is easily done and hardly gets questioned as some do not want to ruffle the feathers or upset the apple cart. The police seem more in control of the situation this time around as the persons for the most part were allowed to vent as members of the public hurled negative comments and homophobic remarks.
The other difficulty with this is that other miscreants also commit infractions in the area and in New Kingston and the age old blame game continues, not that there are not bad eggs in the populations but the trick is who to believe or not. So the gully populations get the blame whether or not for robberies and such, then there is the clash between cruisers and the homeless also continues. A recent standoff in December was evidence of that but it never led to any serious injuries as one before. Those who have been helped in some way have either lost the assistance or are too few to be counted as success stories while the majority are left to fend for themselves. Never leave out the ‘subject of study’ element with academia who only use the populations for academic sport and intellectual masturbation which include documentary productions which are shot taken back and no reciprocal assistance as said producers make good on the professional profile enhancement.
It is not as if solutions are not on paper somewhere but unwilling NGOs and such thrive on but do not want to get their hands dirty with this. This unwillingness is not lost on the public.
Peace & tolerance