Space, citizenship and exceptional violence: Reports on Jamaica

Those who control global order seems to see to its perpetuation through increased surveillance, the differential application and/or suspension of law and the use of excessive violence on populations confined to particular social and geographical spaces. These spaces are usually occupied by people of color, immigrants and poor people – in other words those whose lives are deemed disposable by the present dispensation. Those who inhabit those spaces have little recourse to the rights or freedoms associated with “democracy” and it doesn’t seem to matter whether they are innocent or guilty. States turn against those deemed threatening and imperial powers mount violent attacks beyond their boundaries using unmanned aerial combat vehicles, drones that can kill large numbers of people and collect detailed information about them with impunity. The bodies of those excluded from the practices that lead to accumulation become disposable and their disposability is justified on the grounds that they either threaten or are in the way of the expansion of the global or local social order. Through media coverage we become accustomed to unceasing performances of spectacles of violence, drone attacks in Asia and the middle east or police sweeps of inner city communities. In the Caribbean we know of violence’s nearness through the existence of camps like Guantanamo on the US naval base in Cuba or through the violence of local police or through the violence of those acting at the margins of the system to scavenge wealth where law has been suspended.

The effects of global security agendas on small impoverished nation states in places like the Caribbean are less discussed that the more obvious violence taking place in Afghanistan, Iraq or Palestine. The question of how space, human disposability and the complicated relationship between global governance, the security agenda of ruling global and local elites play themselves out in small impoverished nation states like Jamaica is perhaps instructive because it is often through the study of that which is apparently marginal to power that one learns about the centre.

In 2010, during the dramatic conflict over the extradition of Christopher Coke to the US, the violent subjugation of his community Tivoli Gardens led to the death and injury of many who had little or no connection to Coke’s actions. Recently, Jamaica’s public defender Earl Witter released his interim report on the attack on Tivoli to the Jamaican parliament. The US State Department released video images taken by one of their drones as a result of a law suit brought by the New York Times.

Click on the links below to read the interim report and the report on the footage released by the Americans on the New York Times Blog.
New York Time Blog
Office of the Public Defender Interim Report

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