On Wednesday June 19th, a vigil was held for the late Arnold Jonah Joseph who lost his life as a result of police shooting on Chaussee Road on the night of May 22nd. At the time of his passing Arnold was 17 years old and a fifth-form student of the Entrepot Secondary School. On the night of the incident, he was in the company of a teacher from his school and another adult male on board a white car which police claimed they had difficulty stopping.
Since that fateful night, very little details have come from the police on the matter, which has fuelled public speculation on what actually transpired. Arnold’s family wants the police to provide clarity on the circumstances surrounding his death. They maintain that they have not been given any assurance that justice is intended to take its rightful course in the case of Arnold Joseph. The family, friends, teachers, fellow students and supporters of Arnold, all came together in solidarity for the young man on Wednesday evening, and demanded that justice be served.
The vigil started at the intersection of Chaussee Road and La Pansee, the point at which Arnold’s life was taken. A flock of supporters, wearing red and white t-shirts with a portrait of Arnold on the front, showed up in spite of the rain. Candles were lit and very marched the procession, led by the mother, father and guardian of Arnold, moved up the Calvary. Supporters sang religious songs as they marched along. When they were halfway up the Cavalry, police from a patrol vehicle asked the procession to turn around, but they peacefully declined and continued on their way, along the bypass between Rambally’s Funeral Home and The VOICE Publishing Company, towards Darling Road.
The procession marched down Darling Road and turned left into George the Fifth Park and gathered at the center of the Park. The parents and guardian of Arnold Joseph had not until this moment made any public pronouncements on the circumstances of the teenager’s death. Columban Sextius, the father of Arnold, began by expressing gratitude for the support that they have received for Arnold. In seeking justice for Arnold, Columban remarked, “Together we stand, we could do anything if we have your support. If we have the continuous support I know we’ll get somewhere. It is about time we stand up to the wrong doings of the police. For a number of years they have gotten away with it. It’s time we stand up for our rights… we are going to march until we get what we think is right.”
Alison Jean, the mother of Botham Jean who was killed by police in the USA while in his apartment, was also present at the vigil in support of the family of Arnold Joseph. “I am here to stand in solidarity with the family,” Alison said addressing the gathering, “It has been three weeks or more since that case occurred and I am not hearing the accountability that ought to have come from the police by now. I am a bit perplexed because I heard that the charges that were proffered on the occupants of the vehicle were nothing related to the story that we actually heard.” Alison continued, “I am very, very concerned about how that case is going. There is very little that the family has been told about the case, and I believe in just the same way that I demanded justice for my son in Dallas, I would stand in solidarity with the family and demand justice for this young man as well. As a community we have to rally around this family and ensure that we get accountability from the police and we find out exactly what has happened.” Alison had words of advice for the family of Arnold Joseph, “Don’t allow the police to change the narrative on you. Let people know who your son was; if your son was a good boy, come out and say so, come out and speak!” At the mention of these words, people in the crowd proclaimed that Arnold was a good boy.
Arnold’s mother, Joanna Joseph, was the next individual to speak. In her words, “He was a loving child. He loved his sister; he protected her with everything he had. He loved his school; everyone at his school was his sister, his brother, his mother. For all those who have been saying what they have been saying, and think they know me, you don’t. I am Joanna Joseph, and I am his mother. When I am ready to come out and say what I have to say about the police, I will do that on my own time. When I am ready for justice, nobody can stop me.”
Arnold’s guardian, Valence Emmanuel, attested to the goodness of Arnold Joseph. He remarked, “I know Jonah from 3 years old. Jonah has never let me down. I have never heard of Jonah in any problem. I have been ill and he has been there for me. Jonah is a loving boy, he loved his music. He was just a good person.”
The Vice-Principal of the Entrepot Secondary School, Andrea Louisy, was also present. She began, “I am representing the staff and students of the Entrepot Secondary School. Today we are here to join with Arnold’s family, to let them know that he was loved very much at the Entrepot Secondary School. In the five years at Entrepot, there is not one teacher who could say that Arnold was rude or disrespectful. He was always willing to help. Up to the day he was taken from us he was at the school assisting teachers and just helping us out. Arnold was a prolific actor. When they put on pieces at the school not only would he perform his part brilliantly, if anyone else couldn’t make it for any reason, having observed one rehearsal, he could play the role. I think we missed a brilliant actor. On the night he was taken, he came from doing what he loved, and we at Entrepot loved Arnold. He was loved and he will continue to be loved.” During this speech the students and teachers from the Entrepot Secondary School broke down in tears.
These speeches on the life of Arnold Joseph were followed by songs and weeping. The vigil ended at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Chaussee Road with the lighting and setting down of candles.