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April 18, 2014

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Rastafarians lay claim to historic Jamaica hilltop

Updated Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 | 1:55 p.m.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — About 100 Rastafarians have rallied in Jamaica's capital to lay claim to a site where a founding father of the movement once led a flourishing community.

Rastas are fighting to keep a developer from building on a hilltop in southern Jamaica dubbed "Pinnacle," where Leonard P. Howell founded the first Rastafarian settlement 70 years ago. About 4,500 Rastafarians once lived there, but the community was destroyed by police and British colonial officials in 1954.

The site is considered sacred to Rastas.

Ruins where Howell's house once stood were declared a national heritage site by the government last year. But courts say adjoining lots are owned by the developer.

Jamaica's culture ministry says the developer is open to negotiations regarding the future of the lots.