Jamaican police keep attacking homeless LGBTs

"Bingy" fired by police.
“Bingy” fired by police.

Police in Jamaica are continuing their harassment of homeless LGBT youths who are living in the sewers and gullies of New Kingston after being rejected by their families and ousted from temporary shelters in vacant homes and in a drainage ditch.

A veteran human rights activist in Jamaica reports:

These raids have been taking place nightly for the past three weeks. The usual pattern is that the police arrive in a vehicle and the youth scatter in the gully or toward a nearby park. The police fire what are described as “bingys” or what looks like iron marbles from slingshot devices. At least one youth has been hit by a “bingy” (see photo), but injuries are usually related to attempts to escape the police.

Sometimes the police use pepper spray. Last night, for example, the gully was pepper sprayed, but none of the youth was affected. I think the Commissioner of Police needs to explain the use of “bingys” which I don’t know to be a police-issued weapon.

It seems the youth are targeted because of the nightly robberies that take place in New Kingston. I was informed that some of the homeless gay youth are responsible for these robberies, but some thefts are carried out by youth who are not homeless. The police have apparently not sought to arrest any of the homeless gay youth, but just seem to want to harass the entire group so they move out of New Kingston.

Here again, the Commissioner of Police needs to explain what part of the use of force policy allows for harassment of citizens for any reason whatsoever. Power of arrest is another matter, if the police have evidence that a youth has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a criminal act.

A group of concerned citizens in Jamaica and abroad is collecting money to help the homeless LGBT youths with schooling and housing.

In the United States, tax-deductible contributions can be made via PayPal at the website of the Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church in Rochester, N.Y.  Contributions should be designated for  “Homeless LGBT Jamaicans.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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