• Since May 26, people online have been sharing a video that allegedly shows a fire started by angry Jamaicans who burned down a motel in protest over its owners only welcoming Asian and white visitors
• The video shared shows a burning building in the center of frame, while onlookers watch on, making comment
• In reality, the fire shown in the clip took place on the evening of the 8th of May. The cause of the fire is not yet known but there is no evidence that it was in relation to discriminatory entry practices.
“Asians and whites build hotel in Jamaica banned Black people from going in. So Jamaicans burned it to the ground”.
This is the caption of a video of a fire blazing in Portland, Jamaica circulating online. On Instagram, the video has amassed some 130,000 views, with thousands leaving comments.
“How can these foreigners come to Jamaica and claim which part of the sea/beach belong to them and black people not allowed to go on there”, another twitter post with 3000 views rages – it’s the earliest version of this story we’ve seen, posted on the 17th of May 2022.
The same video has been viewed over 43k times on Facebook, but the story has been remixed to mention Chinese nationals as the Asian foreigners:
A reshared version of the video from Instagram, now on Twitter has managed to rack up more than 1 million views since it was posted on the 28th of May.
So what’s true and what’s not?
– The fire shown in the video did take place in the month of May, and, as correctly stated in some captions of videos shared, it did take place in Portmore. But there is no verifiable indication that the fire was burned down due to the kind of discrimination shared in these posts.
HOW WE VERIFIED
We searched for the video by isolating still images of the fire and cross-referencing them with reports of fires in motels across trusted Jamaican news sites. We found at least two fires at establishments in Jamaica during the month of May – one, unrelated incident at a Chinese restaurant in St Andrew, and the other in Port Antonio, Portland.
We came across several other instances of this video paired with the same rumour, yet official accounts of the fire have made no mention of this – the cause is still unknown.
An article on the Jamaican Gleaner, for example, states that “The cause of the fire and estimated damage is not yet known”
It describes an incident that took place at Clifford’s Guest House on Titchfield Hill in Port Antonio, Portland in which the 32-room guest house’s two building went up in smoke.
“The structure, once known as Scotia Guest House, went up in flames shortly before 10:00 pm. The 32-room property located on Queen Street, Port Antonio reportedly had three guests at the time of the blaze. Only one of the guests was on-site at the time of the blaze; no one was injured.”
The property is part of the properties on Titchfield Hill, a heritage site with old Georgian architecture.
An updated article further suggests the damage done by the fire is to the value of millions of dollars.
Where did the rumours start?
There have been several stories over the last few years that may have played into the wider acceptance of this rumour as truth.
In 2020, a Chinese restaurant in Nigeria refused entry to local people – in Zambia similar reports were made about discriminatory practices in a Chinese-owned restaurant.
More closely to the region there has long been discussion about the preferable treatment foreigners receive in accessing local beaches and resorts over local people.
While many of these stories are verifiable, the narrative attached to this particular video is unproven.
Did this article help you? Have evidence to corroborate anything you’ve seen here? Or do you have another online point of discussion you think we should look into?Get in touch here