The Shower Posse: Background information when reading A Brief History of Seven Killings

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A Brief History of Seven Killings

by Marlon Jones

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon Jones X
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon Jones
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2014, 704 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2015, 784 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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The Shower Posse

This article relates to A Brief History of Seven Killings

Print Review

A Brief History of Seven Killings chronicles the rise of a Jamaican drug gang in the United States. This fictional organization seems to be loosely modeled after the real-life Shower Posse, a violent Jamaican gang linked with numerous killings, with strongholds in large American cities such as New York and Miami.

The origins of the gang date back to the early '60s, when Edward Seaga, a Jamaican politician belonging to the country's conservative Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) decided to embark on a project of urban renewal in the capital city of Kingston. It created a separate community called Tivoli Gardens. Citizens sympathetic to Seaga were housed in the new buildings, while many residents were forcibly evicted. To maintain such a precarious situation, Seaga hired a local thug, Lester "Jim Brown" Coke, who recruited the young men of Tivoli Gardens to form the Shower Posse. The origins of the name Shower are unclear, but some claim that it comes from Seaga's political sloganeering, which promised "showers of blessings" to citizens who voted for him.

Seaga pushed for free market investments in the '70s, something the United States was only too eager to indulge since the JLP's opposition, the left-leaning PNP (People's National Party) was making overtures to Cuba. The Cold War's long reach meant that the United States and the USSR used Jamaica as their playground, with the U.S. funding the JLP (and the Shower Posse) and the USSR funding rival gangs in communities set up by Michael Manley, the PNP leader.

Christopher CokeThe Shower Posse in Kingston soon gained a lot of influence and even controlled the seaports, which meant a strong conduit to the drug trade. Among the members of the Shower Posse who established branches in America was Vivian Blake, who American prosecutors allege was responsible for more than a thousand killings in the United States alone. Blake obtained entry to the U.S. in the mid '70s as part of a Jamaican cricket team and over the years established arms of the Shower Posse in New York and Miami. Gang members have slowly been arrested. In 1989, Charles "Little Nut" Miller was jailed on trafficking charges but was granted immunity if he testified against other leaders. In 2012, Christopher "Dudus" Coke (Lester's son) was sentenced to 23 years in an American prison, after pleading guilty to drug and racketeering charges. His 2010 arrest in Tivoli Gardens provoked large-scale riots among residents who viewed him as a philanthropist (much like the Medellin cartel's Pablo Escobar) who spent money on community projects that raised their standard of living.

Christopher Coke, courtesy of Jeraphine Gryphon

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Poornima Apte

This "beyond the book article" relates to A Brief History of Seven Killings. It originally ran in November 2014 and has been updated for the September 2015 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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