Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stop the Tivoli Gardens Massacre

The precise details of what's going on in the Tivoli Gardens area of Kingston, Jamaica are still unclear. But it is already established that at least 44 civilians have died in a massive police/army operation to arrest alleged gangster Christopher "Dudus" Coke. Doubtless some of the dead are unofficial soldiers in some gang or other; doubtless too many are entirely innocent. Meanwhile residents of the area are trapped in their homes, some without food, water or medical care.

In the poverty-stricken parts of Jamaica off the tourist trail, people have long since been caught up in the crossfire between the interlocking miltia of the 'security' forces, gangsters, and the main political parties. In May 1997 for instance, three women and a six year old child were shot dead by state forces in Tivoli Gardens (see Amnesty International report). In July 2001, at least 20 people died there in a similar operation.

Tivoli Gardens has an important place in musical history. Aside from its role in reggae and dancehall (including the weekly Passa Passa street parties), it gave its name to a whole genre of UK drum and bass: 'The term "jungle" first emerged on a Rebel MC sample in 1991. This terms is associated with an area of Kingston, Jamaica, called Tivoli Gardens, known as "the Jungle" and frequently cited in"yard tapes" (Les Back, New ethnicities and urban culture: racisms and multiculture in young lives, 1996).

Here's a couple of old classics, sadly still relevant.

From 1978: U Roy - Peace & Love in the Ghetto:

From 1976: Junior Murvin - Police and Thieves ('in the street, scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition').

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