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‘Curly Locks’ went from church to a life a crime
BY KARYL WALKER Sunday Observer staff reporter [email protected]
Sunday, March 16, 2008

This series of articles is not intended to lionise or glorify the acts of criminals but to put a historical perspective on criminality in Jamaica, with the hope of shedding light on why the country is now teetering on the edge of lawlessness. Of significant note, as well, is the fact that the subjects of these stories die violently and very young.
FOR the residents of the borderline community of Wilton Gardens, popularly called Rema, life during the People’s National Party (PNP) reign of the 1970s was treacherous.
The community was the first line of defence against marauding political enforcers from the neighbouring area of Arnett Gardens who were intent on rooting out the staunch Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters who stood out like a sore thumb in the PNP-dominated South St Andrew constituency.
Political clashes involving combatants bearing guns, machetes, knives, stones and other implements of war were commonplace, so too were incidents of firebombing of homes on or near to the troubled Seventh Street borderline.
But despite numerous firebombings and other attempts to dislocate them, the residents of Rema managed to survive the repeated onslaughts and retain their political identity throughout the PNP’s eight-year rule.
One young man who evolved into one of the most dreaded fugitives and political defenders to prowl the tough communities of St Andrew South and West Kingston during the 1970s and 1980s was Howard Hewitt, popularly known as ‘Curly Locks’.
For almost a decade his name drove fear into the hearts of cops, his enemies and even those who lived in the very community (Rema) he protected and ruled with an iron fist.
Curly Locks did not rush head on into a life of crime, as he was once an ardent churchgoer who walked the straight and narrow. He was not born in Rema, but relocated there with his mother and grandmother following the bulldozing of New Town, which is now a swathe of land close to the Old Remand Centre known as ‘No Man’s Land’ which lies between Denham Town, Craig Town and Jones Town.
Hewitt was identified as a child with potential for art and was reportedly encouraged by his teachers at the Jones Town Primary School to pursue a career in art.
But life had different plans for Hewitt, a teenager of Indian extraction, when his family moved into the community in the early 1970s. During that period, the political enforcer who ruled Rema was known as ‘Push Wood’, and persons who lived in the community at the time say it was Push Wood who coerced Curly Locks into a life of crime.
“Curly Locks was a Christian but from Push Wood see him and start tutor him, him bruk out. Him start out by teaching ‘Locks’ to ride a bike then, as time passed, the Indian start admire the life and take up the badness,” one resident of Rema said.
In the months following a peace treaty brokered between politically warring factions in the capital, armed political enforcers from both sides turned their attention and energies to staging daring bank and payroll robberies in various sections of the city.
Their favoured mode of transport were Honda 354 and Honda 50 motorcycles. Powerful handguns, revolvers, machine guns and M16 rifles were also part of the bank robbers survival kit. During the years leading up to the 1980 elections, arsenals of guns and ammunition flowed into the island through the island’s porous coastline and the unseeing eyes of corrupt and fearful customs officials.
Lured by the glamour and ill-gotten gains of the bank robbers in the area, Hewitt put down his Bible and joined their ranks. It was then that he was given the moniker, Curly Locks, which had nothing to do with him being a rastafarian, but because of his ‘straight’ Indian hair.
The gangster quickly learnt that dishing out death and other forms of cruel punishment with impunity was the formula to gaining notoriety in the criminal underworld.
One of his first brushes with the brutality of life in a political garrison came during the attempt by the government to evict residents of Rema for the non-payment of rent. On February 2, 1977 government bailiffs, police officers and an angry mob of ‘Junglists’ converged on the Seventh Street border and attempted to ‘chase out’ the Rema residents under the watchful eye of member of parliament, Anthony Spaulding. Spaulding’s Ministry of Housing had a year earlier, approved the eviction of tenants for the non-payment of rent. Despite efforts by some cops on the scene to disperse the invaders, the mob, which included several gunmen, stormed the community.
The besieged Rema residents were outnumbered and, according to a man who claimed to be a resident at the time, Push Wood and Curly Locks both used cunning to fend off the attackers.
“Push Wood and Locks dress up in red and black and join up with the Junglist dem. When them go inna the building them start stab man and push dem in corners inside the buildings,” the man said.
Eight people were reportedly killed by the ‘Rema defenders’ , resulting in the abortion of the eviction attempt by JDF soldiers who trained their weapons on the armed invaders who came scurrying out of the building with their hands above their heads. One man was killed after he failed to stop and hand over his weapon to the soldiers.
Dressed in a bush jacket and knitted cap, a defeated Spaulding left the scene.
Commenting on the botched eviction attempt, retired justice Ronald Small, described the incident as ‘a horrible stain on this nation’s history’.
With the death of Push Wood, his second in command, Curly Locks grabbed the leadership reins of the Rema 13 gang. Included among the ranks of the fearsome gang were men known as ‘Bigness’, ‘Pearl Harbour’, ‘Little Jack’, ‘Stealer’, ‘Mutt’, ‘Peazy’, ’39’, ‘Riley’, and ‘Bobo Charles’.
The gang was known to stage multiple robberies, and each member was sometimes armed with two guns or more, police said. Many persons inside Rema and outside the garrison community met their deaths at the hands of the Rema 13.
But Curly Locks’ lust for blood earned him the respect of his counterparts (Claudius Massop and his successor, Lloyd Lester Coke, better known as ‘Jim Brown’;) from Tivoli Gardens.
There are many stories about his cruelty. For example, Curly Locks, in a jealous rage, was reported to have shot and injured one of his women, before impregnating her sister months afterwards. When the woman was eight months pregnant, Curly Locks, ended her life.
He was also known to take on police patrols single-handedly.
Senior Superintendent Calvin Benjamin was one cop who came face to face with the dreaded Curly Locks.
Residents of the area say Curly Locks surprised Benjamin, who was a young policeman at the time, and a colleague as they walked along Fourth Street in the community.
Benjamin confirmed that the gunman was brazen in his attack.
“He opened fire at us, and it was a miracle that no one was injured. He was really bold,” Benjamin told the Sunday Observer.
Curly Locks was sentenced for armed robbery and, after his release, managed to travel to North America and Europe, where he reportedly shoved a man off a building before hightailing it back to Jamaica, where he continued his life of crime.
But like many before him, Curly Locks lived by the gun and died by it.
His demise came at the hands of a young enforcer from Tivoli Gardens with whom he had a dispute inside the garrison community.
The enforcer, known as ‘Paper Man’, had refused Curly Locks entry to a yard where Jim Brown was handling the weekly issuing of cheques for casual work to persons in Tivoli Gardens, Rose Town and Rema.
Paper Man, not knowing that he was dealing with the Rema don, reportedly called Curly Locks an ‘insipid coolie boy’ and threatened to thump him in his mouth, before chasing him away from the entrance to the premises.
Curly Locks left the scene and returned with a .357 magnum revolver and after a brief scuffle reportedly pistol-whipped Paper Man, dislodging his right eye. Paper Man’s life was spared after Jim Brown and other top Tivoli Gardens enforcers rushed in an diffused the situation, all the time explaining to Paper Man that the ‘coolie boy’, was in fact the notorious Curly Locks.
Weeks later, Curly Locks was ambushed and shot as he rode his Honda Motorbike in West Kingston. The triggerman was a one-eyed Paper Man, who would two weeks later be cut down by police bullets.
This is the final instalment in the Jamaica’s Most Notorious series.

Read more:–went-from-church-to-a-life-a-crime#ixzz1yLB5oDMA


  • Peepaz says:

    Yuh zeet!! Met yah di best.

  • Show says:

    Everything about the post is ture except the end paper man was the one riding the bike and locks was not ambush paper man rode up to locks on 5th street and shot him and on his way back down was shot by police and locks was killed because he had disrespected and later kill a church lady a close friend of Seaga that’s the facts

  • Met says:

    show thanks fis eal up di ting_______________________

  • No Joke says:

    Clarification and verification on spot!!!!…Jmg to Di Worllllllll

  • @show mi nah lie you is wicked if say that story is true! 50% of that story is a LIE

  • rema says:

    The article is fabricated and show don’t kno one f000 about what he/she talking about locks died in denham town metclaf street to be exact.

  • Robert says:

    This article is not accurate on many points. Howard was my brother (same mother) and although he made many wrong choices most of the stories about him is propaganda.

  • devon Smith says:

    the article is wrong pure lies i dont know who you are, saying that Howard was your brother Howard and push Wood also known as NADO was like my older brother I know Howard only has one brother and one sister his brother died in the USA of heart attack. If Howard was you brother that mean you are is sister but no disrespect what is your name and Howard Mother and Brother name if he was your Brother also who was the person who broke out Howard.

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