A state of emergency was declared in Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, and the neighboring St Andrew parish May 23, as pitched street battles broke out between police and supporters of drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke over the government's decision to extradite him to the US. A police station was set ablaze, and areas of the capital are described as a war zone. Two police officers have been killed and six others wounded in the street clashes.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding denounced the unrest as a "calculated assault on the authority of the state that cannot be tolerated."
The fighting has centred on the Tivoli Gardens area of West Kingston—represented by Golding in parliament—and St Andrew district, the chief strongholds of Coke. The kingpin is evidently viewed by many local residents as a benefactor who looks after the urban poor population abandoned by the government. (BBC News, Caribbean360, May 24; AP, Jamaica Gleaner, May 23)
On May 21, Junior Minister Ronald Robinson stepped down, taking responsibility for meeting with a US law firm that was asked to lobby Washington against the extradition of Dudus Coke. While Robinson cited family matters as behind his resignation, he acknowledged contact with the firm, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, which was contracted in the Coke affair by the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). (Caribbean360, May 21)