The ‘Powell Spe­cial’

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY - Brian-Paul Welsh

IRE­CENTLY suf­fered the in­con­ve­nience of a po­lice ‘spot check’ while cruis­ing along the high­way head­ing to a pordy in Porty. Af­ter putting out my spliff and in­form­ing the of­fi­cer that I had mis­placed my driver’s li­cence, he po­litely re­quested my ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments. Upon ex­am­i­na­tion, it was re­vealed that my car was not li­censed, in­sured, or fit for road use.

Aghast at this dis­cov­ery, I be­came fur­ther con­fused when he seem­ingly of­fered nav­i­ga­tional di­rec­tions in re­sponse to my clear and un­re­pen­tant de­vi­a­tions from the rule of law. I didn’t im­me­di­ately ap­pre­ci­ate the im­pli­ca­tions of his in­sis­tence for ask­ing me ‘right or left’, but as if by in­stinct, I promptly placed a call to my at­tor­ney and or­dered the ‘Powell Spe­cial’, the new get-out-of-jail­free card in Ja­maica’s le­gal ma­trix com­ing out of the so-called X6 mur­der case.

Powell, the former de­fen­dant, must re­ally be spe­cial that he could have with­held crit­i­cal ev­i­dence in a mur­der trial.

He was priv­i­leged to be rep­re­sented by a Queen’s Coun­cil and even­tual at­tor­ney gen­eral. Not that this ‘topa­naris’ post has ever been as il­lus­tri­ous as it sounds. There was one such fig­ure­head in re­cent mem­ory that pre­ferred to take co­pi­ous notes on parch­ment pa­per and beat the of­fice com­put­ers with a walk­ing stick, while another was prone to bath­room gos­sip and episodes of glos­so­lalia.

This trial, un­like the in­nu­mer­able other poppy shows that pre­ceded it in Ja­maica’s cen­tury-long farce, has touched a nerve with the pub­lic in a way that per­haps no other episode of in­jus­tice has in re­cent mem­ory.


It fiz­zled in such spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion, it was as if en­gi­neered by a py­rotech­ni­cian, some­one well versed in the raz­zle-daz­zle and fire­works of court drama with much noise but lit­tle ef­fect.

The smoke and mir­rors we all saw as this pro­duc­tion wrapped up film­ing is the kind of stuff that makes good at­tor­neys very rich, and rich clients very in­no­cent in the eyes of the law.

As­tute minds are now able to fer­ret out in­for­ma­tion once left to flut­ter away like gos­sip on the breeze, and in con­fer­ence, this ac­tive and pul­sat­ing jury of pub­lic opin­ion is able to con­sider ev­i­dence, es­pe­cially that which was de­lib­er­ately re­pressed.

The press, in the past few weeks, has gifted the na­tion with a glimpse into the dirty works of on­cein­vis­i­ble hands that con­tinue to sully this na­tion’s moral fab­ric with their mis­chief.

Now that the peas­ants have seen through the Leviathan’s cloak, their eyes are now wiser to its cun­ning ways.

How much longer will fam­i­lies have to mourn the un­nec­es­sary deaths of promis­ing youth with jus­tice de­layed or de­nied al­to­gether?

How many more moth­ers have to die with­out an­swers from those with the duty to care?


I ac­tu­ally think the taxi driver with the am­ne­sia de­serves a na­tional hon­our for his spec­tac­u­larly self­serv­ing yet cathar­tic tes­ti­mony. In his dra­matic exit stage left, he lobbed a rhetorical bomb­shell that has yet to be ad­dressed.

Who was the ‘nigga’ he al­leges the po­lice wanted him to pin the shoot­ing on? And since we are now told the al­leged mur­der weapon that has never been found is also re­spon­si­ble for a dou­ble mur­der else­where, how many other ‘nig­gas’ do the po­lice have lined up to take the fall is­land­wide? In Ja­maica, it seems the poor ‘nigga’ al­ways gets the blame.

So with no gun, no wit­ness, and, there­fore, no case, the wide-rang­ing dis­plea­sure in the so­ci­ety as the cur­tains drew to a close was the un­com­fort­able af­ter­math of mass hys­te­ria, hav­ing just wit­nessed one of this coun­try’s most elab­o­rate and pro­tracted il­lu­sions.

In The Wizard of Oz, when the wizard im­poster was ac­ci­den­tally re­vealed, he tried to ex­tri­cate him­self, much like Mike Henry be­fore Par­lia­ment af­ter the JDIP fi­asco, scream­ing: “Pay no at­ten­tion to that man be­hind the cur­tain!”

The X6 trial has shown Ja­maica the men and women be­hind the cur­tain, and now hav­ing seen the rot that pre­vails, lit­tle by lit­tle we shall con­tinue to lift the veil.

Just as I had to care­fully con­sider my next move when choos­ing the di­ver­gent paths of­fered to me by the po­lite po­lice­man in Porty, so, too, will Ja­maica need to de­cide if we will move to­wards what we know to be right, and if we don’t, whether we can live with the coun­try we have left.

Brian-Paul Welsh is a writer and pub­lic af­fairs com­men­ta­tor. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­ and bri­an­, or tweet @is­land­cynic.

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