Owen Ellington, the former police commissioner who presided over one of the highest rates of police killings since the 1980s under Edward Seaga, proved once again that he is a mesmerizing figure for those who are interested in preserving the political integrity of the existing state.
In true academic style Commissioner, Professor Anthony Harriott, asked him a series of questions seeking to find out whether May 2010 was a counterinsurgency operation or a police operation. Calling it a counterinsurgency operation depends of course on whether the Shower Posse was regarded as an insurgent criminal gang, trying to topple the state. Ellington agreed it was insurgent and trying to build a state within a state. Nonetheless, he would not be drawn into using the word counterinsurgency to describe the operation carried out against the Shower Posse. Very astute. He is perhaps thinking ahead of an appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) where strict rules of war apply.
Despite other incisive questions by Harriott, seeking to assess with Ellington how the police has been monitoring and containing the threat of insurgent gangs (a threat of which Ellington believes has been significantly reduced since 2010), the former commissioner showed his skill at sounding erudite while being dangerously deceptive in terms of protecting himself and the role he played as commander.
In a nutshell, the police can be accused of carrying out the most horrendous crimes (from a massacre to the regular shootouts) but Ellington is always able to sidestep responsibility because he knows how to mouth the right slogans. In so doing, he never has to give account on why his words and dictums are not obeyed.
Professor Harriot who should know better gave him a pass. He didn’t press for an explanation of such anomalies. But who knows, Ellington could have taken a class or two in criminology from the professor. In any event ignorance is not a defence before the ICC. As commander there is a NEED to know what is happening.
Sir David Simmons not used to being upstaged by Professor Harriot, decided to get into the act. In one of his worst performances to date, Simmons invited Ellington to get together with Major General Stewart Saunders to write a piece for him so that he could include it in his report on how to avoid another Tivoli Gardens massacre, my consideration.
Jacqueline Samuels Brown. Yes, she livened up the place. She was as aggressive as Deborah Martin, and Linton Gordon for that matter, the difference being that she was taking on an establishment figure — the former police commissioner — for her client, Rev. Al Miller.
Miller has submitted a statement to the Commission but because he has a case in the Court, he has asked not to be called as a witness. Nonetheless, privilege has been granted to his attorney (being a QC helps) to bring back Bruce Golding for cross examination, as well as now having the opportunity to cross examine Owen Ellington who is likely to be called as a witness in Miller’s trial. Doesn’t this strike you as odd?
Despite puss and dawg not having the same luck Jacqueline did have a few interesting moments with Ellington. She categorically refuted his contention that Miller told him that Dudus was not interested in negotiating a surrender pre-May 24. Herro Blair also seems to think that Dudus was prepared to negotiate. Attorney Hannah Harris Barrington once told me that up to the 23 of May when she last spoke with Dudus, he was prepared to surrender to the British Embassy.
So the question is this: was the die cast regardless? Was some other force pushing for a war that no Jamaican state official could resist? Will anybody have the courage to ask if the US was behind the scenes pushing for a counterinsurgency attack. Did they help train the security forces to carry out this operation?
If Dudus, according to Ellington’s account of what Miller told him is true, that Bruce Golding should get involved, why is that no one has asked the question as to why Bruce Golding didn’t just pick up the bloody phone and call Dudus to negotiate a surrender?
Or, was it that Bruce had already himself been neutralized, and was just going through the motions?
Why has no one asked the Jamaican authorities to account for why Coke could not have been tried on the same charges here in Jamaica?
The obvious answer to all of these questions is that unless an outside power such as the ICC steps in to resolve the matter, we will never get the right answers and it is just a matter of time before we have to deal with the next Tivoli massacre.