From: Josephine Grey
To: Whom it may concern re safety and peace in Accompong
Regarding the Recurrence of Incidents with Mr. Lawrence Rowe:
We are pleased to report that the OASIS South project team we introduced to you and the community in January 2018 has continued with success and and a warm welcome. Having received invitations from community members and groups, our team returned to Accompong from Toronto, Canada to work together and explore opportunities for learning and exchange of knowledge and activities towards sustianable development.
As our relationships with youth and farmers in Accompong deepen, we are now addressing climate change resilience, food security, education, and seeking to directly benefit the lives of residents and members through our collaborations.
Unfortunately, the problem of the hostile and threatening behavior of Lawrence Rowe which we asked you to address last year, has resurfaced. We had been acting under the assurance that when our team returned, that they would be free to proceed without molestation or interference. Please refer to the correspondence that you received from Josephine Grey, Sharrae Lyon, and Willi Nolan-Campbell last year on this matter.
In those reports, we informed you that Lawrence Rowe had accosted and threatened our delegation at the home of our host Willi Nolan Campbell; we were very concerned and shaken by several death threats made by Mr. Rowe. Your investigation into this matter will reveal that the police in Maggoty were notified by an Accompong resident out of our fear for Willi’s safety, theirs, and our own. Our efforts to seek resolution and assurances of safety of our friend and project partner continued after our return to Canada; and we were informed that a letter had been drafted and signed which promised to address Lawrence Rowe’s threatening and disruptive behaviour. We were assured all was well. We were also happy to learn that our colleague, Coach William Grant, had chosen to bring his excellent athletic equipment and youth programming to Accompong.
We arrived in early April, warmly welcomed by the youth and Willi, had several inspiring and productive meetings, went on tours and were invited to attend a traditional bonfire and drum circle. Lawrence attended the first formal youth meeting at the school, and refused to stop recording the meeting as was requested. For the sake of peace and in order not to disrupt the meeting any further, Lawrence was allowed to record and there was no further incident. We felt this was only a minor issue, as no threats were made and Lawrence was for the most part non-disruptive after being allowed to record the meeting. We were under the impression that Accompong had addressed the problem of Lawrence’s behaviour with peaceful and productive solutions; however, our assurance was short-lived.
On Saturday, April 13 2019, our team was confronted by Lawrence Rowe on the way to and during the bonfire. He became loud, angry, aggressive, then began acting out, threatening those gathered at the fire, escalating to the point where everyone present was feeling threatened, and abandoned the fire and drum circle to escape his rage, threats and hurtful behaviour. Again he used his phone to record the people present without anyone’s consent while he yelled and screamed at everyone. It was clear the community has seen and heard all this many times before; they calmly exercised admirable restraint, grace and patience. However, it was evident that they were not only deeply embarrassed, but also felt unfairly deprived of sharing a much anticipated cultural celebration and bonfire with their new friends and colleagues.
Please be notified that another incident occurred on April 15 2019, during which Lawrence’s behaviour escalated to the point of his brandishing weapons at our youth’s meeting, again disrupting positive and productive work. It is our collective opinion that Lawrence Rowe cannot be trusted to control himself and avoid causing harm to our youth and community work.
All of the youth have agreed that Lawrence Rowe’s uncontrolled and harmful behaviours cannot be allowed to negatively impact the good work that they are doing together. His presence has already caused harm to project work with international guests, partners and colleagues. As a human rights defender and youth mentor, it is necessary for me to raise these concerns on behalf of myself and my young colleagues.
We reiterate our former complaint and note that it appears that there was no formal action taken on our initial complaints to you and the Accompong Maroon Council regarding Lawrence Rowe, with respect to our collective right to be left in peace. We sincerely hope that a peaceful and just resolution can be found to resolve this issue and help Lawrence Rowe regain his mental health and dignity.
We therefore repeat our appeal for you to take immediate and effective action to act upon the harm being caused in the community and abroad by this individual, and to prevent any further harm.
on behalf of
Roxy Cohen (of the OASIS South Project)
Accompong Maroon Youth Culture Group
i was asked by a resident of Accompong to send the complaint above to the attention of the ombudsman office. In addition to the problem described therein, I have observed and been informed about a number of concerning issues relating to the current colonel during my visits in 2018 and 2019, including assaults on youth, possible misappropriation of funds, and interference without due process or apparent just cause in community development efforts of residents. I know the sovereignty issues are complicated, but given the colonel ran for the office of MP in Jamaica, and resides mostly in Montego Bay, surely he can be brought to justice or somehow sanctioned and/or the issues of concern could be addressed by the state of Jamaica? These facts lead me to question if he has been in violation of Maroon law, for certain many of the residents are afraid to challenge him for fear of retribution. I note the Indigenous status of the maroon people of Accompong, and hope that their human rights and right to accountable self governance can be supported by your office. If the victims of his behaviour were assured of protection and that providing evidence of maladministration (and possible criminal code violations) would result in corrective action, i believe they would feel safer to come forward. let me know if i can be of assistance in this matter…
sincerely concerned, Josephine Grey (Canada)