Jamaica Gleaner / On the trailer for Sasha-Gay Lewis’ short documentary, The Incursion , there is a figure which differs dramatically from the state’s numbers about the Tivoli Incursion of 2010. The film reads, “at the end of the raid over 150 civilians were dead.” The police have put the figure at 69.
Lewis said 150 “is the figure I kept hearing when I was in Tivoli.” Additionally, one person she spoke to at length said she has a male relative “who was one of them that he used to pick up the bodies. He went on the truck. He knows where some of the bodies went, which is not to the morgue.”
A person she spoke with also reported that their curtains were burnt from the fires that were set. “There were burning bodies,” Lewis said.
“They in Tivoli know how many people died… I believe it was that figure – or even more.”
She explained that The Incursion is the “personal story” of those who went through the ordeal. However, it is a story that has resonated with audiences outside Jamaica, where The Incursion , is yet to be shown. “Some people know bits and pieces. They were blown away by the extent of it,” Lewis said.
Screened IN THE USA
While there is a perception in some First World spaces ( The Incursion has been screened in the USA) that violence is normal in the Third World, there are those with whom it resonates especially, such as African-Americans and persons from inner-city communities who now live in the US The experience – if not the intensity – of being exposed to violence from the State, is the same.
With a zone of special operations being declared in Denham Town, Lewis said “I was not surprised.”
She said one of the things with the incursion is she believes that there is a generation of young men who are creating mayhem. They saw their older male relatives killed and “they have this anger in them”.
In an email subsequent to being interviewed, Lewis said: “For me, it’s not a question of should the operation have happened but more of did it have to happen that way. Was there another way? When those charged to protect and serve carry out their duty in a criminal way, how do we maintain the boundaries of law and order. The Government’s own enquiry said that though justified, the manner in which the operation was carried out was disproportionate and unjustifiable. Your own enquiry found you guilty of wrongdoing but you refuse to acknowledge it or do right by those you harm. Where’s the accountability? What is preventing something like this from happening again.
“In regards to the figure of 150, we understand that there are casualties in war but even at 69, that is a failed operation, as the aim should be to minimise casualties. Whether it’s 69 or 150, why can’t we as a people know who were casualties versus who were gunmen. They found guns, but these guns didn’t come with a body? Had no owners? The security forces acknowledged that Dudus was not in Tivoli and that they knew that before entering, so what was their motive for going in?”
“I believe fear (and prejudice) played a role in the operation, among other things that we as a people aren’t ready to talk about. Nonetheless, my hope is for the government to do right by the people of Tivoli and by extension West Kingston, by carrying out the recommendations of the enquiry.”