Human rights group, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), has criticized a decision by police to stop and search young men wearing hoodies as part of an effort by law enforcement to clamp down on criminal activities across the island.
Hoodies are sweatshirts with a hood which are sometimes associated with persons who are intent on masking their identity when committing nefarious acts.
“The police are to have a good reason for searching somebody to begin with. They don’t have the right to just stop and search everybody. To add to that, if they are stopping and searching everybody wearing a hoodie, that’s profiling, and that’s being quite discriminatory,” said JFJ executive director, Horace Levy.
However, head of the Clarendon Police Division, Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron-Powell, said that the drive to stop and search young men wearing hoodies was part of the efforts to combat crime in the parish and questioned why anyone should need to wear hoodies in Jamaica’s tropical climate.
But Levy told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper that there is no right on the part of the police to implement such a strategy.
“Just because there are some crimes being committed by guys with hoodies, you are to start searching every hooded guy? It’s a style and a matter of self-identification!”
Powell said that the strategy was not new to the island as other police divisions have already adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards the wearing of hoodies.
Last year, more than 130 people were murdered in the central parish of Clarendon which recorded the third-highest number of murders in the 19 police divisions across the island.