Monsignor Richard Albert strolls through Grants Pen in Kingston.
Monsignor Albert is an interesting person indeed. I first met him years ago while shooting photos for a story on Deportees that appeared in The Source magazine. I was immediately struck by his jovial personality and frankness. I was able to go along with him & the President of Amnesty International while they visited various ghettos and prisons in Jamaica. I was already well aware of Kingston’s gang activity and violence problems that has plagued the island, but going and seeing it with him was quite different. I had already shot photos in many of these areas in my years of photographing in Jamaica, but this was not the same.
On one of our trips we were summoned to an area where just an hour before the Police had come to check on gang member who was supposed to report in the local Police station as part of his rehabilitation. He was sick that day and called the station and said he could not come in because he was sick and wanted them to know. Shortly after that call the Police came and gunned him down in bed, it was a crazy scene. A crowd had gathered, family members were obviously distraught and screaming, I was ushered in to see what had happened, the house was ransacked by Police looking for guns, tables, chairs, dressers, everything was overturned and was blood spattered on the walls and ceiling. It started to get intense and I was escorted out by the Police even though the family wanted me to see what had happened. I will never forget the scene and screams of the family members. That was no doubt the worst part of the day.
I had befriended the Monsignor going to see his church service several times and going out to lunch with him (and his body guard) a few times. He always had some intense stories to tell. At this particular time, minutes after this photo was taken we were going out the street when a Police Jeep had driven by and within a few minutes we saw several heavily armed Policemen, guns drawn (M-16 & Uzi’s), when they saw who we were they lowered their guns, except the guy with the Uzi. We spoke with them a few minutes, they told us to be careful and then drove off.
I had recently became engaged in Jamaica and was going to get married in Port Antonio. I was asking him about all the details I need to take care of and when he said he would be happy to do the ceremony himself, I was delighted to say the least. It was a nice low key ceremony at the local church in Port Antonio.
Father Albert, as he is usually called, has been a central figure in trying to stop gang activity, drawing many out of the lifestyle, he was even featured on the US television news show 60 Minutes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZt1iti-Q2Y). So just the other day I came across this article in the Jamaica Observer that a movie is in the works about his life in Jamaica, set to star is actor David Arquette. I really hope this movie gets done since the Father is an amazing person who was trying to help solve one of Jamaica’s biggest problems. The article can be seen here : http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/entertainment/Father-figure2015-06-14T00-20-06
Big up Father Albert and Jah Bless !!!