Johni Glaze Memorial Fund and Community Unity Event
About the Benefit:
The 2013 Johni Glaze Memorial Community Unity Event is the first of a yearly community event in Westmoreland, Jamaica, to remember the tragic loss of 20-year-old Johni Glaze, a victim of police protocol of shoot first and ask questions later.
This year, prominent reggae artists will provide a benefit concert and guest speakers will include Westmoreland Councilman McKenzie, members of Jamaicans for Justice (a non-partisan, non-violent action –oriented citizens’ right group which advocates for good governance and state accountability and transparency), a representative from INDECOM (the Independence Commission of Investigations which investigates complaints against police officers), representatives from the Savannah –La- Mar and Negril police stations, as well as other prominent public figures. We will host a round table discussion with the group in hopes to answer and address outstanding questions on not only Johni’s death, but the recent wave of violence in general in Jamaica by the Constabulary forces.
In addition to raising public awareness and hopefully influencing reform within the Jamaican Constable Force through the community event, remaining funds raised will be used by ROSE, INC, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit to provide a community soccer league and microfinance opportunities to the youth of Westmoreland.
On Friday, February 8th, Johni Glaze, a 20 year old young man without a criminal record was shot by police officers in Jamaica who were acting on a shoot-first, ask questions later basis. Police officers were in the area performing operations and spotted four men at a shop that is frequently visited by locals and tourists alike. The officers claim to have seen four men who they identified as wanted and potential suspects and approached them. Upon arrival, the officers opened fire on the four young men at the shop, without regard for general safety, guilt, or identity. The innocent Johni was killed, while the other three men (who are claimed to have been wanted by the law, unlike Johni who had no criminal background) escaped unharmed. Johni’s guilt? Believing in a system of justice that would see his innocence and as such not running from police officers as he had done nothing wrong.
Johni is survived by his mother and father, a younger sister currently attending high school, and three older brothers – two of which currently live abroad. He had no children of his own, but was greatly loved by his many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
About Police Brutality in Jamaica
Johni is not the first victim of wrongful police shootings in Jamaica. Solely in January, 18 fatal police shootings had taken place. Within a single 24 hour time period in January, police officers killed 6 citizens. In a recent report, it was identified that over the past decade, police have been responsible for killing over 10,000 Jamaican citizens. 1
Please note that this is not a protest, it is not aimed to villainize police (in fact, we have joined forces with the Savannah-la-Mar and Negril police stations) – rather, this is a call for change. As Parliament Member McKenzie recently stated in response to the February 7, 2013, brutal beating of a woman by police in Denham Town, we have had enough – “the police can’t continue to abuse and disrespect….it has to stop”. 2 Dr. Carolyn Gomes of the human-rights group Jamaicans for Justice stated earlier in 2013 that the killings by the police “is abominable, this is abysmal, but it’s not unexpected because we haven’t seen any action by either the police or the Ministry of National Security to make it stop.”3 Help us make these actions a reality.
Thank you for taking to the time to learn about Johni and the violence in Jamaica. If you have the ability and the desire, please consider forwarding this email to your network and making a donation.
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