Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 14:30 UK

Jamaica state of emergency: Your stories from Kingston

Violence has flared in parts of the Jamaican capital, Kingston, after the government said they would arrest and extradite alleged druglord Christopher "Dudus" Coke.

Residents of Jamaica have been sharing their experiences. Send us your stories.

Photo: Alexander Delapenha
Alexander Delapenha took this picture of smoke rising from west Kingston

The level of violence that is being perpetrated on the people of Tivoli and its environs is unbelievable.

Denham Town was just like a movie. There were very intense gun battles. The corner store near my house is now on fire.

I have never seen anything like this before. The people are being held hostage by the security forces and very well-armed thugs. We were cowering in fear.

We couldn't take it anymore, so we decided to take advantage of a small window of opportunity. The police were patrolling the street and helped us get out.

Where I'm at now is relatively quiet but there is a sense that things are going to spill over to where I am now. There are a few people on the streets even though a State of Limited Emergency has been declared.

The Denham Town and Tivoli Gardens area used to be very quiet in the sense that Christopher "Dudus" Coke absolutely ruled. Whatever he said overruled the common law, he was the supreme leader.


There has been sporadic gunfire since this morning, but for the past three hours it has almost been non-stop.

As a young Jamaican I am really sad for my country.

This situation is greater than just this one incident, it is the fruit of a seed of corruption that has been sewn by politicians since we broke away from Britain.

Now the criminals have become independent of politicians, they no longer wait for hand outs and guns because they have found the means to get their own.

It is a really sad day in Jamaica
Janeen, Kingston

Criminal elements have greater fire power than the police, and maybe the army combined.

Policemen have been asking for proper uniforms and basic bullet proof vests which the state has failed to provide.

So how can they stand-up to hoodlums who sport 50 calibre guns with five inch bullets?

It is a really sad day in Jamaica, but we have to take charge of our country, and over time we have to do away with politics and rebuild.


I live 10 miles away from downtown Kingston where the violence has been, but it has spread to just a couple of metres from where I am. Shots are being fired, I feel like I live in Iraq, and I live in a residential community. I have never heard or seen Jamaica, the land we love, like this. It's just sad but we knew it was coming for a long time now because of our two political parties.
Jermaule, St Andrew, Kingston

TV grab of police station on fire in Kingston
TV images showed a police station on fire in Kingston

The state of emergency is only treating the symptoms and not the cause. For decades our politicians have been intertwined with gangs and dons as an insurance policy to secure votes and power in parliament. Now the fowls have come home to roost. Mr Coke is filling a vacancy created by our government past and present. Poor Jamaicans have been looking for viable leaders and found Mr Coke, he has provided what successive governments have failed to do. As I type I'm in Upper St Andrew, far away from Tivoli Gardens, and shots are being fired continuously. So it is not only West Kingston that is being affected. The US seemingly will get their wish (extradition of Mr Coke) but my question is: What have they done or what will they do to stem the flow of guns and ammunitions into Jamaica that is now causing this mayhem as I type? Or is it only the exporting of drugs from Jamaica they care about? Oh, sorry, that's our problem I guess.
L Bryan, St Andrew, Kingston

Even though at present the situation has led to many innocent Jamaicans being held at ransom, the fact remains that Dudus has kept the peace in an area the police found uncontrollable. He has helped people the government overlooked and undervalued. Even if at this point he is caught or turns himself in, there will still be the issue of life after Dudus. What will the people have to look forward to? Turf wars; petty thieves; starvation? There are always three sides to every story - yours, mine and the truth, and that is not always black and white.
Luci, St Andrew, Jamaica

Christopher "Dudus" Coke
Christopher "Dudus" Coke is accused of being a gang leader

The state of emergency is necessary not only to put down this awful, unlawful and unnecessary insurrection in the areas where it is presently but also to prevent it from spreading to other areas where Christopher Coke has influence. It is suspected that coordinated flare-ups might be on the agenda to stretch the security forces thinly, and detract them from their main mission of going into Tivoli Gardens - Christopher Coke's stronghold and where he is presumed to be at present - and arresting him.
Milton Pellington, Kingston, Jamaica

This is a very touchy topic to debate. I totally understand where the West Kingston people are coming from in their desire to keep their area "don". Only they can give a full account on what things would be like if the Dudus were to leave. It is not so much the money he provides the people with, or the treats he has for the kids, it is a matter of security. Security that the government and police force are unable to provide for the people, not only those who live in the West Kingston area but everyone who visits the area to walk and do business in down town Kingston.
Keisha Anderson, Kingston

The state of emergency is welcomed. I am happy that the government is finally doing something to end this ugly situation between "Dudus' supporters" and the security forces. The application of this state of emergency has basically a calm yet alert mood in the area where I live.
Peter Campbell, Gordon Town, St Andrew

Jamaican police armoured vehicle going past barricade in Kingston
Jamaican police say they will act with restraint

My wife and I are from the UK but we are working in Kingston for a year. The situation has been simmering ever since the prime minister announced his u-turn on the extradition of Mr Coke last Monday. We were sent home early from work last Monday afternoon as there were strong rumours about trouble in the anticipation of the prime minister's announcement. One of our friends lives in Hannah Town which borders Tivoli Gardens, he said he had seen hundreds of AK47s being gathered last Tuesday. The police have said that the gunmen in Tivoli have more powerful weapons than they do, specifically the Grizzly 50 calibre big bore sniper rifle. The police have also stated that some of the barricades blocking the roads into Tivoli have been electrified by illegal connections to the national grid, however the locals strongly dispute this. There have also been police reports about Tivoli Gardens' residents having their mobile phones confiscated by Coke's supporters, and residents being used as human shields. Truckloads of soldiers have been seen in downtown Kingston and the National Reserves have been ordered to report for duty. Having said all of this, we've been told people should attend work and school on Tuesday as normal after the Labour Day holiday on Monday. There has been a report of a shootout between gunmen and police on Red Hills Road which is considerably out side the downtown area. We have been told that incidents of violence like this have a tendency to spread throughout the island.
Adrian Devlin, Kingston, Jamaica

I have heard persons referring to Mr Coke as a modern day "Robin Hood". Ironic, seeing as there is a remake of the tale now released. I am always opposed to suffering of any kind to anyone. However, the things we applaud are the very nature of our demise. I admired what Robin Hood was doing for people. But looking at it now I don't have the same perspective based on what is currently happening to my country. Also, in the movie, when Robin Hood was captured he was rescued by the people he helped. Coincidence?
Anonymous, Portmore, Jamaica

Many of the protesters are out there due to fear. The government lacks credibility and should go. The opposition is not worthy as they have their "Dons" too. It only leave us with the JDF to take over the country. They too are perhaps governed by tribal politic, so then what for the Jamaican people? The Jamaican people have done well for themselves but their leaders fail them miserably. Jamaicans are battered, wounded and desperate. The church is not an alternative - they are in their own world driven by greed. No place to go, no place to hide, held hostage.
Johney B Good, New Kingston

I currently reside in the New Kingston area - our business district. The unfortunate but necessary declaration of a state of emergency is in my opinion essential to combat criminal elements that plague our capital city, and continue to tarnish the reputation of our country while disrupting the way of life for ordinary working class, law-abiding Jamaicans. The state of emergency allows our police officers to detain suspected criminals without the red tape and technicalities often involved in their apprehension. Additionally, this state of emergency also serves to discourage loitering and movement of criminals who may attempt to flee specific areas to avoid planned raids, while also making the general public aware of the magnitude of the situation.
Andre Levy, New Kingston, Jamaica

While the focus is on Kingston, in Montego Bay shots have rang out tonight. I think it was heard everywhere for at least half-an-hour, massive heavy fire power, it is as if our island was a war zone. People here are very worried.
Crimson, Montego Bay, Jamaica

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