Jamaican Drug Lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke Is The Last King of Jamrock Pg 3


At the Edward Seaga Sports Complex, with Tivoli Gardens’ pastel-colored towers in the near distance, Desmond Francis, the coach for Tivoli’s Under-21 soc- cer team, stands on the grass overseeing practice. It’s been six months since the firefights in his complex. As the residents pick up the pieces, Tivoli’s soccer team, a dominant force in the league, keeps its eye on the field of play.

Coach Francis sucks hard on his gold tooth when asked about the incursion. “While the military come in, you have a lot of wickedness,” he says as the team runs laps. “Most of the people them kill, they take outta their house. It’s not like no shoot-out. Mostly
innocent people them kill. When them
come in that day, them kill anything
them see... Bare wickedness.”

To hear some tell it, Tivoli was a gangster’s paradise, a virtual no-go zone for police. But Coach Francis says half the story has never been told. “They tell you the bad part of we at all times,” counters the coach. “We no have no gang war in our community. We have a unity. Most thing that happen, we no re- ally like go to the police to sort it out.”

During the raid, soldiers shot
through locks, confiscating phones and
cameras, and marching residents
around like refugees. The coach was
lucky enough to know two of the sol-
diers who came to his house, but he speaks of a friend who was supposed to receive medical attention and was shot instead. “Me have police friend and soldier friend,” he says, “but right now me hate the law... Them coulda deal with things better than that.”

As the war outside moved closer, Owen Powell, a towering 23-year-old backup forward for Tivoli’s soccer team, hid in his house. Head coach Glendon Bailey—known to dancehall fans as DJ Admiral Bai- ley—has nothing whatsoever to say about the siege. But he does allow Powell some time off from practice to speak about that Labour Day Monday, when, as the young man puts it, “the place boom out.”

When the explosions started, Powell, his mother, his daughter and her mother felt their house shake. He remembers seeing bodies flying. “Bomb tear off them foot and face... It wicked, man.”

After two tense days listening to the mayhem— but unable to look out windows for fear of sniper fire— they heard soldiers at the door. Powell and his nephew were taken outside while his 2-year-old bawled. “Them have we kneel down in front of some dead men,” he says. “Them start beat we a lot with them gun. Them say the whole a we a gunman down here.”

When he insisted that he was not a gangster but a soccer player, the soldiers made him prove it by sprinting up and down the street—literally running for his life. Then, he and his nephew were ordered to load up a truck with swollen, stinking corpses and climb in on top of them. The grim cargo was delivered to an industrial holding area, where they slept on the floor before being returned to their family. His daughter, now 3, clings to him a little tighter these days. “Any- time me go,” he says, “she hold onto me.” Powell says he’s received some counseling, but his love of soccer helps him cope with the trauma: “Football weh me love, so me put my focus on that.”

 Six months after the incursion, Powell is more con- cerned about his family, friends and neighbors now that Dudus is gone. “One time it was the best community,” he says, smiling. “The whole world come down here to party... But it nuh pretty again.” For those who felt wel- comed there, Tivoli was the safest neighborhood in Ja- maica. Before the siege, no crime could be committed without severe penalties from the “rat patrol,” Dudus’ security team. “But now, raping and thiefing—all dat a gwan,” Powell says. Besides security, some say the garrison government took on other responsibilities ceded by the state, assisting with education, health care, even utilities. Because of Dudus, most residents never needed to pay a light bill in their lives. Passa Passa, the world-famous Wednesday night dancehall session that spawned a thousand dances, rocked the streets of Tivoli till way past 2 a.m, violating the strict anti-noise ordinance week after week. All the biggest reggae stars played at Dudus’ Presidential Click stage shows, with proceeds benefitting inner-city students.

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