The police yesterday painted a damning picture of some entertainers, saying they are using their money and influence to drive up crime figures in the country.
“Several entertainers are people who are misguided. They have come in possession of wealth, and instead of using the wealth to promote the good values, they use it to promote the wrong values,” said Assistant Commissioner Ealan Powell, head of the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB).
The senior cop’s comments, while addressing a forum at The Gleaner’s North Street offices in Kingston, come less than a week after dancehall artiste Alkaline was ordered released from police custody by the court.
The entertainer, whose given name is Earlan Bartley, was locked up for five days after he turned himself in to investigators who are probing a murder case.
His lawyer, Peter Champagnie, went to court to seek his release, but the police objected. During the court proceedings, Superintendent Meverald Smith said Alkaline is believed to be involved in a murder.
Yesterday, Powell, when asked why the police locked up the entertainer without being in a position to charge him, said the cops are being strategic.
The senior cop also said the media has been giving too much attention to Alkaline in relation to his arrest, which could make him notorious.
“The media is doing it, and the media should stop because we are creating another Vybz Kartel out of him. I think we need to be careful what we promote,” Powell said.
Vybz Kartel was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.
“Sometimes, we unwittingly glorify people we shouldn’t glorify,” Powell said.
“We have had entertainers who have created mayhem in this country, and we glorify them and make them believe they are doing the right thing. What they are doing, in my view, was inimical to the development of the country,” the senior lawman said.
Powell said Vybz Kartel’s conviction was a watershed moment as his influence had spread so far throughout the country, even in schools, that the nation nearly became a war zone.
“Probably five, six years ago, almost every school had two gangs in Jamaica. If that was allowed to continue today, we would probably not have any schools. We would have all gangsters in the country. Luckily, with the arrest of a significant player …, we have seen a significant reduction in school-based violence in the country. These are events we should celebrate and mark as changes in the landscape,” the CIB head said.
The police had attributed many school conflicts to a ‘Gaza/Gully’ feud, which was tied to the two most popular deejays at the time Vybz Kartel (Gaza) and Mavado (Gully).
Powell said that with the ‘Gaza/Gully’ era behind the nation, entertainers should seek to stay away from criminality.
“What we want them to do is use their influence to change these values and to let people know that hard work is the virtue by which you will succeed,” Powell said.