Public Defender promises to fight for Coral Gardens

January 09, 2018
Members of the Rastafarian community march in the downtown Kingston area to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the infamous Coral Gardens incident of 1963.
Arlene Harrison Henry


Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry said her office will this month begin the work needed to bring full justice to the Coral Gardens Rastafari Benevolent Society for the events of the 1963 massacre.

While addressing the opening ceremony for the Office of the Public Defender's western regional office in Montego Bay on Friday, Harrison Henry said that her office has already made a number of successful recommendations to the government to acknowledge the unjust treatment that members of the Rastafarian community suffered at that time.

"This administration has accepted several recommendations coming from us, in our reports on the events of 1963 at Coral Gardens. We take this opportunity to redouble our commitment to the Coral Gardens Rastafari Benevolent Society that the remaining work to be done to reap success will start later this month in Montego Bay," Harrison Henry said.

Joel Rose, a 64-year-old resident of Coral Gardens, praised the move to vindicate the Rastafarians, whose brutal treatment he could remember from his childhood.

"What I can remember of that event was that it was disrespectful to the Rastafarians; they got beaten and their houses were burnt down. It is a good thing if they get compensated, and for them to get recognition," said Rose.

The Office of the Public Defender had previously recommended that a trust fund of approximately $10 million be set up to provide for persons, who were properly identified, as survivors of the massacre.

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