Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Gay Rastas jump off cliffs

I’Akobi Maloney was a 23-year-old, Barbadian university graduate who was found dead on June 18, 2008 after an encounter with police. Law enforcement officers said they were responding to a call of a drug landing in the north of the island when they “observed and interviewed” the young man. During this time, he apparently "suddenly ran and jumped off a cliff.” Well the Maloney family was having none of it, and with the support of their community, managed to have an inquest opened into his death.

Media coverage of the Coroner’s Court proceedings has been a bit questionable, and has included publication of a private journal entry that Maloney was supposed to have written. But perhaps the most ridiculous part of the inquest surfaced recently in this Nation newspaper article, and focuses on the testimony of a gay man who claimed to be in a relationship with someone who may or may not have also been in a relationship with the deceased. You probably need to read that again very slowly. And while you’re at it, take a look at this:
Shon Boyce, who admitted to being a homosexual from his childhood days said he was introduced to Jason Collymore, a former witness at the inquest, in 2003.

He was introduced to Collymore, he said, and they subsequently got involved in a same-sex relationship where he was the outside man, since Collymore, who works at the Cement Plant, told him that he had a Rastaman and he, Boyce, should never come to the house when the man was there.

He said Collymore lived at White Hall Main Road in an apartment, and he did not know the Rastaman's name as it was never told to him, but he used to pass a man on the stairway going down smiling as he would be going up. Boyce said he only recognised that the man was Maloney when he saw the advertisement in the paper and decided to come forward and give testimony after reading Collymore's evidence in the newspaper that he was not gay.
I love how they mention that Mr. Boyce “admitted to being a homosexual”, as if this were on par with, say, admitting to being the Unabomber. And notice the use of what, in Barbados, is scandalous language like "outside man" and "had a Rastaman". Now this is not a direct quote, so presumably this particular testimony by the witness could have been conveyed in a less prejudicial way. The inquest goes on to discuss in detail the supposed intimate relationship of these three men, and throughout, I am trying to figure out what in the name of all that is holy any of this has to do with whether there was foul play involved. Or is it that, in their experience, gay men often jump to their deaths?

Then “Constable Wendell Walkes…went into some personal history, on the questioning of Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris, about his own Rasta brother's suicide.” I get the trend here: Rastafari people are clearly prone to suicide, so if you’re gay and Rasta, well, surely that’s enough to drive anybody off a cliff.

I don’t know what happened on that cliff in Cove Bay last year, but I’m not sure what the inquest is trying to establish by focusing on Maloney’s religion and raising conjectures about his sexuality. Perhaps they’re implying that in a homophobic society like Barbados, a secretly gay man might feel tortured enough to end his life. But all they and the media who give them voice are succeeding in doing, which might also be their goal, is encouraging those who see gay people as unimportant and dispensable to carry on in such thinking.


  1. It is amazing the lengths at which they are going in their attempts to assasinate I'Akobi's character. The article mentions that Boyce was told not to visit while the rastaman was at Collymore's house but still he used to run into the rastaman on the stairway?? Does not make sense at all. There is no mention of how often or the frequency with which he allegedly saw the "rastman" on the stairway. Plus, I thought that the idea of him not being around while the rastaman was there would be to avoid raising suspicion that Collymore had an "outsideman"....therefore why would the rastaman, on seeing another man visit his alleged bf time and time again, smile at the person??? I am putting this down to either him not being a credible witness or poor journalism, as many legitimate facts have not been stated.

    I myself was not there on the day so I can't say what did or what did not happen, but I do know that Barbados has a serious issue of sweeping under the rug anything to do with police misconduct.

    I follow the inquest based on the articles printed in the newspaper....can anybody confirm whether he was involved in any illegal activity at that time?? It is my understanding that the police were called in based on a narcotic tip and not that a man in that area looked disturbed and on the brink of suicide. Would appreciate if someone could enlighten me.

  2. Re "outside man", "had a Rastaman" and just the whole shebang: the writing and reporting at the nation is becoming so very very shoddy and unprofessional, it's ridiculous. I remember sometime last year, there was a case where a gay man had murdered his lover, and they reported his evidence verbatim, and it had obviously been done more for amusement/entertainment than for any serious journalistic reason. It was awful.

  3. I'm sure, grainjah, that if the police had gotten wind of any suspicious activity in which he had been involved - even so much as an overdue library book - we would have heard about it by now.

    titilayo: the entire 'court pages' content makes me feel they're really just having a laugh at the expense of victims and accused alike. And it makes the justice system seem like one big joke.

  4. The Coroner has concluded that I'Akobi's death was caused by "misadventure".

    The Coroner has ignored the fact that 1)The two policemen who held I'Akobi prior to his death produced the same statement although they denied that they wrote the document together

    2) Of approximately 7 policemen who were present, no one else besides the two that held Maloney could confirm what occurred in the minutes leading up to his alleged suicide....as they were not focused on Maloney in the minutes leading up to his fall.

    There was no one else on the cliff with Maloney...therefore where or what was there attention focused on? On a white boat which was allegedly spotted out to sea by a concerend neighbour who notified the police? There has not been any confirmation from the police whether there was indeed a boat in that area.

    I call for the Coroner's head to roll on this one as well as "death by misdadventure" is not acceptable and reeks of fear to implicate the police in this matter...not just the two that held Maloney but also those who were present on that day.

    I call for the media's head to role as well as they refuse to conduct any form of real investigative reporting...rather just printing the words from the mouths of the powers that be.

    Of course, the nation had to print that at least the coroner concluded that there was no evidence to confim that Maloney was a homosexual.

  5. This is how a society moves from 'nice Barbados' to 'what a gwaan here!'. Once a society loses faith/trust in the police, who are supposed to protect, serve and reassure, its a slippery slope downhill. Once the police feel they can murder at will, and the public just rolls over and plays dead, its a slippery slope downhill.
    Bajans, rise up and save what we sing of as the 'gem of the caribbean sea' before its too late!!!


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