ANGER and grief over the police shooting last weekend of three men – Joel Jacob, Israel Clinton and Noel Diamond – led to violent protests in various parts of the country on Tuesday.
Protesters took to the streets, blocking roads with burning debris, and marching through Port of Spain, chanting, “Don’t shoot,” with their hands in the air, calling for the arrest of the officers involved in the shooting last Saturday. In response, police arrested 72 people. According to a police release more are expected to be arrested.
A mother of four who was four months pregnant, Ornella Greaves of the Beetham Estate, 30, was killed in the protests. The action broke out from 9 am. Protesters dragged debris near the NP Flyover on the Beetham Highway, and set it on fire, calling for justice and an end to unwarranted violence at the hands of the police.
By 9.30 am, Clifton Hill and Coconut Drive in Morvant were also embroiled, as a car was set on fire in Clifton Hill, and debris was scattered in the roads. Five minutes later, smoke was billowing out of Sea Lots, and a large group of people had gathered. By 9.45 am, protests had spread to Belmont Valley Road, Duncan and Prince Streets, Nelson Street and Piccadilly Street.
Police called for backup on Nelson Street, as the crowds there became unruly and began pushing police back. By 10.30 am, Observatory Street, was also blocked by burning debris.
The protests were not limited to the city. Videos circulating on social media captured protesters throwing debris onto the Western Main Road in Cocorite, and in Maracas, North Coast Road. Gunshots could be heard in the capital as police fired shots in the air to disperse the protesters. Sources said the gunshots came from Tokyo Panyard in Pashley Street, John John and the Beetham area.
Pioneer Drive, Sea Lots was deemed impassable. Westbound traffic near John John was limited and eastbound traffic was diverted. The flow of traffic on the Beetham Highway near the dump and Pashley Street, Laventille was limited as protesters blocked the carriageways with burning debris and replaced it every time police cleared the roads.
Scared citizens in the capital rushed to leave, and businesses closed as police tried to contain the angry protesters and detain the destructive ones. One observer said, “I was on Frederick Street and I saw someone being arrested by a policeman. Out of nowhere ,someone threw a glass bottle at the police officer. He let the man go and tried to cover himself.
“I went and made my way to Capital Plaza, and police were running through the mall and telling people to close up. They said people were looting…but I didn’t see any looters, just people running around.”
Protesters marching near Woodford Square were heard chanting, “No justice, no peace.” They were mainly young men with their faces covered with jerseys. Some of them were bare-backed.
Residents in and around Port of Spain had mixed reactions to the protest. While some did not condone the protest, others thought it was necessary.
The police killing “is an example of what is going on in America,” said one resident of Observatory Street, Port of Spain. “It is time that people put their foot down and demand they be treated with fairness. I am not saying that what they are doing is right, but our voices have to be heard.”
Protesters promised the action would continue until the officers involved in the killing are charged. Last Saturday, the three men were driving in Second Caledonia, Morvant when three marked police vehicles stopped them. Heavily armed police got out, surrounded the car and ordered the men to surrender.
The men put their hands out of the car windows and one got out with his hands in the air. The three were shot multiple times. Then the police officers began picking up small objects off the ground, lifted up the three wounded men, threw them in the back of a police van and drove off. The shooting was captured on CCTV.
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