Governor researches case of jailed pastor
The Governor is to research the case of a crusading churchman jailed more than 100 years ago in an “historic injustice”.
John Rankin was asked to pardon the Reverend Charles Vinton Monk by David Burt, the Premier.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor, who served at the Allen Temple AME Church in Somerset, was locked up for libel after he wrote about the harsh treatment and poor conditions endured by Jamaican workers at the Royal Naval Dockyard.
A Government House spokesperson said: “The Governor is still carefully considering the request in accordance with his responsibilities and is carrying out research into the case.”
David Burt, the Premier, told the House of Assembly in June that he had asked Mr Rankin to grant a posthumous pardon to the clergyman and journalist from America.
Mr Burt told MPs the American pastor had “witnessed harsh and terrible conditions” at the naval base.
He added: “In keeping with the doctrine of the AME Church and its commitment to social justice, Reverend Monk took to writing about these conditions and exposed the company responsible for them in the hope that this would bring about a change to the benefit of the workers.
“Instead of accepting the truth of the obvious state of the workforce, the rampant disease and dangerous working conditions at the site, the principals of the company saw to it that Monk was arrested and charged with criminal libel.”
The Premier said the minister was jailed “for simply reporting the truth” and that a review of the case “indicates that the whole affair was laced with shocking bias”.
He explained how the tale was brought to the attention of the modern public by the late Ira Philip in his book Freedom Fighters: From Monk to Mazumbo.
Mr Philip later said the conviction could “only be characterised as a miscarriage of justice”.
Reverend Nicholas Tweed, pastor of St Paul AME Church, at the time thanked the Premier for “having both the historical understanding of the importance of this case and also the moral courage to correct a historic wrong”.
He added: “Seldom in the life of a community do we have the opportunity to correct historic injustices.”