Charlotte Street vendors want more police after daylight murder

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A usually busy corner of Duke and Charlotte streets in Port of Spain, is practically deserted on March 6, almost 24 hours after the brazen murder of Jaheim Diaz by a gunman on March 5. – Photo by Roger Jacob

VENDORS on Charlotte Street are calling for an increased police presence after their colleague Jaheim Diaz was murdered on March 5 at the corner of Charlotte and Duke streets, Port of Spain.

Diaz, 20, was selling juice and bottled water out of coolers when a man in a black shirt and grey pants approached and shot him dead in broad daylight.

The gunman shot Diaz once in the chest, then stood over him and shot him twice more in the head before running off.

Pedestrians were seen running in fear as the gunshots rang out in full view of shoppers and schoolchildren.

The incident was captured by multiple CCTV cameras.

Newsday visited the corner where Diaz was shot and saw several nearby vendors had returned to their stalls.

Some said they were not afraid to return, while those who were afraid said they couldn’t afford  not to come out to work.

All the vendors only agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.

One vendor asked, “If another journalist get shot, you going and stay home and say you scared and stop asking the hard questions, or you going to come out and still do your job?”

“I have to do what I have to do,” said a young vendor, who spoke as he continued preparing his goods for sale.

He said his family was concerned about him going to work, but they understood it was how he earned his income.

“They just tell me take care and be safe. But they didn’t tell me don’t come or anything like that.”

He said he had been at work for several hours and had seen police, but not enough.

“They pass a few times, but nobody ain’t stationed there right through.”

Another vendor said the same thing as a police car pulled up to the corner while he was speaking with Newsday.

“At least each corner supposed to have two police (officers), but they don’t have none. They need one or two police by the corner, especially nearer to the hot spots in Port of Spain.”

He said crime in Trinidad and Tobago had “gone mad…

“It not easy at all. I doubt they could get it under control.”

The police car eventually drove off and another vendor muttered, “See, they gone, they ain’t staying here really.”

One vendor said he was also displeased with the Port of Spain City Corporation, as he was paying $1,800 a month for his spot at the side of the road, but was not being given protection or even access to basic bathroom facilities in exchange.

“I have to pay $1,800 for my spot because I have a van…Everybody have to pay to sell out here, but for what?”

“The mayor and them want money and they can’t protect people. They charging you rent, but they can’t even protect you.”