West End schools march against violence

  • Making a statement: Sandys Secondary Middle School joined other West End schools during the Walking Up West For Unity in the Community march against violence on Scotts Hill Road, Sandys (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Show of support: West End Primary School students were not allowed to take part in the Walking Up West For Unity in the Community march against violence, but showed their support by standing on the sidewalk outside their school (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • United stand: Sandys Secondary Middle School students are shown taking part in the Walking Up West For Unity in the Community anti-violence march (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A peace march by schoolchildren was delayed yesterday after the Commissioner of Education’s office said the event could not go ahead.

Desmond Crockwell, one of the activists behind the Walking Up West march, said “concerning red tape” meant that one school, West End Primary School, did not take part and the start was held up for 20 minutes.

Mr Crockwell and Antonio Belvedere, another of the organisers, said the march was a success and about 350 pupils carried anti-violence placards and the names of victims of gang warfare.

Mr Belvedere added school authorities were told on the morning of the event that they needed the commissioner’s permission to go ahead.

He said: “I did a peace march back in 2009 and they came up with a lot of red tape. There’s always a hitch.

“It’s been advertised for weeks now. For them to come to us on the day and say we needed permission, that feels like an unnecessary control thing.”

The marchers were escorted by police on the 45-minute lunchtime walk through Sandys.

Pupils from Sandys Secondary Middle School, Somerset Primary School and TN Tatem Middle School turned out for the walk from Sandys Secondary to Somerset Cricket Club.

West End Primary pupils held up their messages outside the school instead of taking part.

The children got lunch at the cricket club with entertainment and speeches. Mr Crockwell, who is the chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, said the turnout and spirit at the march was “awesome”.

Mr Belvedere added: “It was still a great vibe. It’s just a shame for the West End Primary parents and grandparents who came out thinking their children would be part of the march and were disappointed.”

He said that he and Mr Crockwell were looking at holding another anti-violence march for schools in Hamilton.

The education ministry did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.