Political Identity and Criminal Violence in Jamaica: The Garrison Community of August Town and the 2002 Election
Social and Economic Studies, Vol. 53, No. 2, 2004
22 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2004
The residents of the garrison community of August Town incorporate their corners or social spaces as a part of their group identity. The various corners are allied to rival political parties under the leadership of the area leaders. The criminal gangs who rule these corners are also allied to the major political parties. Therefore criminal turf coincides with political turf and so the differences between rival gangs sometimes become political differences. The political competition in the 2002 election made political identity salient and several residents were shot and others killed as the rival gangs employed their criminal expertise in the service of their political parties. The violence continued in the post-election period. The rival electoral candidates and the area leaders from the major parties displayed hardcore political identities in their public discourse about the violence. Only a few solutions to the conflict were suggested and the outgroup was portrayed as the aggressor and the ingroup as the victim because the politicians continued to ignore the role of criminal gangs in politics because they are strategic political resources. However, the solutions suggested by the two area leaders such as impartial parliamentary representations, job creation and training for the youth, the dissociation of some politicians from criminals with the support of the police are useful strategies to curb political violence.
Keywords: Political Violence,Identity, Criminal Gangs, Garrison Communities, Jamaica
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