Free Omar Ryan - Protesters want organiser released from lock-up

November 08, 2017
Students and other commuters could only watch as the road was being blocked by the protesters.
Omar Ryan
Rocks were used to block a section of the road in Grants Pen, St Thomas.
This policeman was seen clearing debris in Knightsville, St Thomas.
A youngster rides by a roadblock in Poor Man's Corner in St Thomas yesterday.
All vehicles were parked during yesterday's protest in St Thomas.
Old refrigerators, tyres and other debris were used to block the road recently.
Police were seen clearing a road block in Poor Man's Corner, St Thomas.

'Free Omar Ryan' is the most popular 'Sankey' being sung among residents of St Thomas, who for a second straight day mounted roadblocks yesterday to protest the poor condition of the parish's roads.

Omar Ryan, the organiser of the mass demonstrations in St Thomas, was on Monday accosted by the police and taken to the Constant Spring Police Station where he is being held for 'suspicion of criminal activity'.

Ryan was arrested alongside his colleague Andrew Turner.

As news of his detainment spread throughout the parish, roadblock-mounting protesters have added his release to the list of conditions they need fulfilled for them put an end to the unrest.




Some taxi and bus operators also withdrew their services for a second day yesterday as they claimed that they are doing their part in advocating for the development of the parish.

The men, who could be seen in the Morant Bay bus park dressed in their uniforms and playing games, also expressed their displeasure with Ryan being locked up by the police.

"The road nah stop block until dem leggo Rasta because him nuh do nothing! Him just seh we fi withdraw our services and then dem seh him a organise roadblock. If dem nuh let him go by this evening (yesterday), no work nah gwaan," said one of the bus operators as he slammed down a domino in what seemed like an intense game.

The social unrest has made its way to Facebook as users posted several statuses demanding Ryan's release, using the hashtag '#FreeOmarRyan'.

Kimberley Thompson, one of the residents whose disagreement with the police's decision was made obvious through her posts, described the happenings as unfortunate.

"The parish has long been dubbed the forgotten parish with no imminent sign of development. The day would come when people vent their frustration, and it happened yesterday (on Monday). It is quite unfortunate that Omar Ryan got arrested. I don't support unconventional political participation, but must ask what exactly does the authorities see as a push factor for action," she said.




Thompson told THE STAR that she has seen, on numerous occasions, people neatly lined up with placards whose demonstration were unfruitful.

"Omar is a young and vibrant parishioner who wants what is best for the parish. Locking him up is, of course, fuelling the fire. In my view, his arrest was unwarranted. Let Omar go free," she said.

Others have also joined locals in their online campaign for Ryan's release.

In addition, a petition was created asking that he be freed.

Popular Jamaican dub poet from St Elizabeth Yasus Afari also joined in the social media campaign.

"Political prisoner Omar Ryan remains behind bars in Constant Spring, Jamaica, after being illegally arrested for leading a protest for better living conditions in St Thomas. #FreeOmarRyan #PaulBogle. Sign the petition. Prime Minister Andrew Holness, free the Paul Bogle two!"

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