Adrian Frater, News Editor
Patrons leave the 'Riding West' showcase at the Llandilo Cultural Centre, Savanna-la-mar, Westmoreland, on Saturday, after it was invaded by security personnel. - adrian frater
Three major stage shows in western Jamaica on Saturday night all fell prey to the security force's new anti-crime initiative to root out lawlessness as all three venues were raided, cordoned off and artistes, patrons and their vehicles searched.
In what appeared to be a simultaneous operation which started at approximately 4:15 a.m., denim-clad policemen, armed with M16 assault rifles, invaded 'Riding West' at the Llandilo Cultural Centre, in Savanna-la-mar, and 'Rasta Bash' in Negril, Westmoreland, and 'Reggae Fever' at the Catherine Hall Centre, in Montego Bay, St. James.
The lawmen burst through the gate at Llandilo moments after Jah Cure had closed the show and patrons were preparing to exit the venue. They proceeded to search all persons and vehicles inside the venue, including Supreme Promotions officials who staged the event.
While some artistes managed to vacate the venue before the police arrived backstage, others, such as Little Hero and female DJ Spice, and their entourage were among those who were subjected to searches.
"We are living in dangerous times with all the high-profile crimes so it is not difficult to understand the reasoning behind what the police are doing," said popular promoter Worrell King, who was inside the venue when the lawmen arrived.
At the Catherine Hall Centre, where the police and soldiers struck while 'Reggae Fever' was in full flight, a halt was called to the show and patrons and artistes were searched as they exited the venue.
Artistes such as Mavado, Ninja Man, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Anthony B and Busy Signal, who were slated to perform, never made it to the stage as several of them were among those searched and ushered out of the venue in the operation which lasted until shortly after 8 a.m.
"Hey, Anthony B, you never hear how Singer Jay introduce himself to the police dem," said Ninja Man, shortly after he made his way out of the venue. "Hear him nuh, a me name Singer Jay, the deejay whe nuh romp fe bun bad man."
At the Rasta Bash, patrons were reportedly having a jolly good time when they were surprised by the lawmen who moved in, sealed off all entrances and exits and proceeded to search all and sundry.
"Man, spliff fly like plane when the blue clothes dem touch the place," said a patron at the show. "We understand wha dem a do because the crime thing get out a hand so me no have a problem with what dem do."
Western Jamaica, especially Montego Bay, has come under increased police scrutiny within recent weeks as a spate of murders, including the killing of two policemen, has left the region in a panic.