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Jamaica: Haunted By 1980 | Violence Triggers Mass Exodus From Olympic Gardens

When political violence erupted in the Olympic Gardens area of St Andrew West Central in the 1980s, Bradley McCallum Jr, who was living in the United States, saw the greatest exodus his community would experience.

As the nation was gripped by bloody political tribal violence, houses were fire-bombed and many citizens killed, many in multiple-shooting incidents.

McCallum Jr, 64 – the cousin of the world-renowned Jamaican boxer Mike ‘The Body Snatcher’ McCallum, who was also born there – said that Olympic Gardens was like a war zone in those dark days. And though many miles away, he was still gripped by fear as terror reigned.

“I was living in the States, and my family members were living here (Olympic Gardens), but we were definitely terrified because it was part of like a communist war taking place in the country – a lot of killing. … Guys that I grew up with lost their lives. They got mixed up in the party stuff – politics, definitely politics – and lost their lives!” he told The Gleaner.

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