As Jamaicans observed Emancipation day (August 2), an all too familiar story, reminiscent of the country’s colonial past reemerged, angering citizens island-wide.
Jamaicans learned through a viral video that a 19-year-old woman, who sported dreadlocks, was forcibly trimmed while in lock up at a police station in Four Paths, Clarendon.
The viral video angered many on what should have been a day to celebrate the liberation from the country’s colonial past.
Many took to social media platforms, to voice their disbelief that the uncouth practice of forcibly trimming a individual’s hair still occurred.
“Today we celebrate emancipation and on Friday its Independence Day but we can’t freely Express ourselves in this Jamaica. Rastafari is our identity, all others where force on us by the very people who enslaved us. We are supposed to be emancipated and independent but we can’t freely Express ourselves and we are not allowed to have our own identity,” said one social media user.
“I remember first form debate at Camperdown 1980 was “Should Rastas be allowed in school” the following year the first Rasta started attending Camperdown. Now its 2021 and some part of the society havent moved pass this. Mi a wonder what that police woman could be thinking to have the rights to cut the young lady’s locks. Jah know talking about abuse of power,” added on social media user.
People’s National Party Women’s Movement President, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, used her platform to voice her support for the family decrying the human rights abuses that were alleged to have happened while the teen was in police lock up.
Duncan Sutherland shared that the teen, 19-year-old Nzinga King was arrested and remanded in custody, during which time, a female police officer snipped her locks, and refused to provide King with toiletries brought to the station by her family.
Sutherland further disclosed that King was arrested after police allegedly pepper sprayed all the occupants of a vehicle she was travelling in, noting that the pepper spray had been intended for the driver only.
After being pepper sprayed, King got out of the cab and removed her mask.
The police then arrested King for not wearing a mask.
Following the incident going public, Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, ordered an immediate probe into the claims being made.
According to Anderson, a team of investigators from the Inspectorate and Professional Standards Oversight Bureau (IPROB) has been dispatched to Clarendon to investigate the claims made by the women and to objectively determine the facts surrounding the matter.
He further said, “it must be stated categorically that the cutting of people’s hair – particularly that of Rastafarians – has NO place in the modern JCF”.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force has been under the public microscope in recent weeks for what some believe to be abuse of power; citing an incident in which cops allegedly arrested and forced a young man in St Ann to apologize to the Prime Minister, who it is claimed that he disrespected.
Following public backlash for the incident, police claimed that the man was a suspect in a case of larceny, however the man was never charged.