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Jab Jab tension in Willis

This is the area in Willis where the persons playing Jab Jab mass assembled on Sunday morning

There is a stand-off between members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and several persons in the Willis area of the St George North-east constituency who have defied the authorities and played Jab Jab mas from early Sunday morning.

A prominent member of the small village told THE NEW TODAY that some persons have decided to take the law into their own hands in the wake of the death of Ravi Shevi Baptiste in June inside a police station on the Carenage in St. George in which they feel that justice has not been given to the family.

He said the tension has been building up in Willis ever since Baptiste’s death despite the fact that a Coroner’s Inquest has been ordered into the incident.

“That ground is seething. That is like a tinderbox waiting to explode. There is a lot of tension with everybody that you talk with. They feel that no justice came from the death of Shevi Baptiste in police custody,” he said.

“I think that there are some guys who are pushing it to see what reaction that they will get from the police,” he added.

The police had issued a bulletin indicating that Baptiste was taken into custody and because of past experiences with him, they decided to place him in a cell with only a boxer on and he allegedly used it to take his life by hanging.

From early Sunday morning, reports reached THE NEW TODAY that the Jabs had blocked the main road leading into the village and were asking vehicle drivers for money in order to pass through.

An eyewitness said that the roadway was also full of oil that was used by persons to blacken their skin to play the Jab Jab mas.

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According to one resident, the Willis incident is not politically motivated because several residents in the village have also been feeling the impact of the hardship brought about by the coronavirus pandemic including massive job losses over the past 16 months.

He said that some people in the small village “are seeing trouble and the sense of injustice is prevailing” within the community.

“That is the situation there now,” he remarked.

The source said that since last week some residents indicated to him that “we just waiting for them to come and stop us (from playing Jab Jab) and then all hell (will) break loose”.

Several police parties came into the area at different intervals, watched what was happening and left without any skirmishes with the persons engaged in playing Jab Jab.

The resident said that some villagers have been advancing a particular position on a “technicality” that government has banned carnival activities with the passage of legislation in Parliament two weeks ago but not the playing of Jab Jab and that Jab Jab is not carnival.

The Willis/New Hampshire area is expected to be a key battleground in the upcoming general election as the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell will be seeking to bring the constituency back under its control following the decision about two years ago by the Member of Parliament Tobias Clement to resign from the group and become Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House of Parliament.

Retired New York policeman, Nimrod Ollivierre is the current frontrunner to become the NNP candidate for the constituency.

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