Cycle of crime
Gang violence continues to haunt family after death of loved oneThursday, January 27, 2022
KINGSTON, Jamaica — With 112 people murdered in Jamaica in the first 23 days of 2022, citizens continue to grow fearful as pain and paranoia torment the nation. For some, this might be a new feeling, but for others, it's a way of life.
Speaking with OBSERVER ONLINE, *Jane Brown shared that crime continues to haunt her family almost a decade after the loss of her cousin who was killed as punishment when he tried to leave a popular gang in Downtown Kingston.
“I hadn't seen him in about three months. We talked the Thursday night and he was to come see me the Friday to bring me groceries. He died the Thursday night,” she recalled, noting that the groceries were at his house as he had promised her.
Describing her cousin as gentle around his family, Brown noted that she had seen him 'lose his mind' on others before.
“He was a self-defined hustler…charismatic and a ladies' man He was ambitious… a hard worker, though I'm certain without proof that a lot of what he did wasn't entirely legal,” she said.
Regardless, they shared a close bond.
“We had a great relationship. When my parents and aunts were at work, he would care for me until they got home. He wasn't the sharpest when it came to books but my homework had to be done. He'd cook, wash and clean. Jesus, he could clean,” Brown lamented.
“When my parents bought their house, he was the landscaper. He worked for days in the sweltering heat digging into the rocks so that we didn't have to hire a landscaper.
“He remembered birthdays and would help us sneak out as we got older. He was also fierce and protective when he knew the boys my other female cousins and I were talking to,” she continued.
“He was the ultimate trickster and the killer of all lizards that would have me running up and down all day,” Brown reflected. “He'd kill the lizard and chase me like madness, and as I started to cry he'd have the nerve to stop and look contrite. For me, it was the little things that made him my fav and still hurts to this day.”
But Brown was not the only one affected by this sudden death, because his son's life completely deteriorated.
His father now deceased, the then five-year-old ended up living with another family member in the same gang intoxicated community.
Quickly moving from a boy who dreamed of becoming a great footballer, the now 16-year-old was recruited by a gang — the very same one which killed his father.
“He stopped going to school 'because of COVID' to focus on his (football) craft. However, he got into the wrong crowd,” Brown shared.
Losing his father in 2012 set the teenager on a rebellious path, with him throwing his father's death in the faces of his family every chance he gets.
“He'll say things like 'if me dead like daddy, who unnu ago tell wah fi do?' and 'daddy dead so if me dead unnu already know how it feel',” the concerned family member said.
Despite this, getting her relative to turn his life around was still a top priority.
However, leaving a gang is never easy and almost near impossible — a lesson the teenager's friends had to learn the hard way.
“He went to play football with some boys whose parents were trying to get them out of the gang and the boys were murdered on the football field to drive fear and show what would happen to those who tried to leave,” Brown said.
But this still did not deter her.
In one of the scariest moments of her life, Brown shared that under the cover of night, she had to go into the community to 'smuggle' the teen who is now in hiding.
“I was terrified of course, but sometimes that sense of loyalty overrides all rational thought.”
Noting that she was driving her car at the time, she said “The thought that people might put two and two together and realise that I took him, scares me.”
The teenager might have been saved but his future is still uncertain because of his haunting past.
Brown explained that he remains out of school and cannot be registered or enrolled in anything because his name could attract trouble.
But, even in the face of death, she stressed that family is everything.
“My cousin did not even realise how loved he was. His son doesn't even realise how loved he is either and it's not even because of anything he's done but because of the love we have for my cousin that died,” she said.
*Name changed upon request.