It may seem, on the surface, a stretch to connect the deaths of Khajeel Mais (in 2011) and Nicholas Francis. Five years between them, different weapons used, different circumstances.
But there are two critical elements - apart from the fact that both were schoolboys - that binds these incidences together.
Firstly, the hugely unpopular Not Guilty verdict - instructed by the presiding judge, no less - coming after a mere wisp of a trial that appeared like a mirage at the end of a near-five year desert of postponements and other legal stalling, brings the Mais case painfully into the present. The "forced" exoneration of accused Patrick Powell, reputed to be a bigwig businessman and contributor to both political parties, has touched a very raw nerve amongst the public, in a manner similar to the brutal stabbing of Francis on board a public commuter bus in an apparent robbery attempt. In one case, everything was done to avoid or negate prosecution, in the other, nothing was done to forestall/prevent a needless loss of life.
Both incidents have huge implications fr the national character, and both represent a stern test for a still new administration under severe pressure to get a handle on violence that many view as out of all control or even the possibility of managing.
There is still work to be done in respect to the Francis murder, and with a name and photographs of the suspect being circulated via social media - the same social media that the Mais judge ordered the family of the victim to stop posting to - there is the hope that some part of the loop of pain will be closed for the grieving family.
But for Allana, Noel and Kimberly Mais (mother, father and sister respectively), no such closure is in the offing. The accused is gone free, thanks largely to a turnabout from the prosecution's only witness, the taxi driver in whose cab Khajeel was travelling on the fateful afternoon. Not only do they have to contend with the verdict, but with the near deafening crescendo of rumours surrounding pay-offs, the general travesty of justice, and the now oft-repeated story that Powell the elder was really acting as a proxy for the "real" killer: his hothead son.
Jahnai Powell, 21, is already being sought for the alleged beating of an old man (which crippled him), an incident which gees back to 2009, even further than the X6 shooting. He is apparently on bail in that matter.
And there we have the core of the problem. The rich and influential in this country have their cases repeatedly put off, have records conveniently go missing, or have key prosecution witnesses change their prior statements. the not-so-well-off, like the Mais and the Francis families, are forced to "just deal with it", to give interviews and speak out for "justice reform" and other platitudes that neither party has really shown the will nor the cojones for when in office.
There is simply the cascade of grief and outrage and then.......silence. The daily humdrum resumes - until the next "shocking" fatality. Word is that on Monday, interests at Francis' school Jamaica College, will stage a special "stand-in" outside the Old Hope Road gates of the school. Odd how none of the Fortis crew ever thought to march during the five-year "legal winter" that the Mais family shuddered through; worse, the not guilty verdict prompted no riots or marches or protest of any kind beyond words (just like this article, I must admit).
But if justice was really "sold" in the Mais case, as many seem to have accepted s the outcome, then that means we must prepare for more Kyle Maises. More road rage instances will occur, some by necessity involving well-heeled owners of high-end motor vehicles and also of firearms. Meanwhile, our inaction and cowardice as a populace means that more Nicholas Francises will lose their lives for the sake of their possessions (phone, watch, whatever) as many sit by and look or, at best, recoil in horror with out even attempting to intervene.
These events, the Mais-X6 verdict and the Francis slaying occurred just a week or two after the annual Heritage Week observances, and the commemoration of the life of reggae revolutionary Peter Tosh. Would any of our heroes - Tosh included - be anything but mortified at how spineless, venal and indifferent we have become?
God, how we need them now.