Rasta teen trimmed in lock-up

August 03, 2021
Princess Nzinga Candace King, 19, with a handful of her dreadlocks she save after she was allegedly trimmed by a cop.
Princess Nzinga Candace King, 19, with a handful of her dreadlocks she save after she was allegedly trimmed by a cop.

Attorney-at-law Isat Buchanan has likened the trimming of a dreadlocked teenager, allegedly by a police officer, to the scalping of a member of Britain's Royal family.

Princess Nzinga Candice King, 19, a Rastafarian, alleged that her hair was trimmed while she was in custody at the station on Thursday, July 22.

The teenager was taken into custody by the police on a charge of disorderly conduct following an altercation with the police. Her mother, Shirley McIntosh, said the teen was held at the Four Paths Police Station from Thursday, July 22, to Monday, July 26.

She said the ordeal arose from an incident which occurred on June 29, while King was on her way home from nursing school.

"She was in a taxi [and] there was a young man in the taxi who wasn't wearing any mask and they [the police] were trying to get him out of the taxi ... until he punched one of them," McIntosh said.

"The policeman resorted to pepper-stray, and that started a heated argument between she and the police officer," the upset McIntosh said.

King was brought before the court on a charge of disorderly conduct on Thursday, July 22. She was fined $6,000 or 10 days' imprisonment. The fine was not immediately paid and young King was taken into custody that day, and held until the Monday when her mother paid the money and went to retrieve her.

How them a take so long

"When me go for the little girl, me a seh how them a take so long to bring her out. The policewoman seh see the little girl there. Me a seh this can't be the little girl because my daughter have locks so I don't know who this little girl [is]. Them cut off her hair, bald off her locks and she looked like someone that was mad," the mother said.

Buchanan, a lawyer with a history of human rights activism, said he has been retained by the family to seek redress from the state for the human rights violation as well as for her being "dehumanised by the cutting of her hair that she has had for 19 years".

"Before I even file these submissions, I'll be writing to the attorney general and director of state proceedings and invite them to compensate Princess Nzinga and her family," Buchanan said.

"I wish I could put a figure to it, but if I were to start to count the length of each strawn of hair on the young lady's head and calculate it, it is the equivalent of walking into Buckingham Palace and dragging a princess from out of Buckingham Palace and scalping her. That is the type of egregious, aggravating and exemplary damages that we would expect compensation for," the lawyer added.

Senior Superintendent Glenford Miller, commanding officer of Clarendon police, said that he has sanctioned a high-level investigation to determine the circumstances under which Princess Nzinga's hair was cut.

"If the lady story is not true, she would be creating public mischief, and if that is the case, I will consult with the high command of the JCF where charges might be proffered against her. And if my police officers' stories are not true, and anything that happened is a fault of theirs, I will still consult with the high command because the decision will come from the commissioner's office," he said.

Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, who has ordered an investigation, said that the cutting of people's hair -- particularly that of Rastafarians -- has no place in the modern Jamaica Constabulary Force.

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