Clifton Hill residents live in fear
By ALEXANDER BRUZUAL Sunday, March 10 2013
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HOUSES BURN: Smoke billows skywards at Clifton Hill in East Port-of-Spain as houses burn. Three houses were destroyed in what police said was arson. N...
For two days last week, residents of Clifton Hill Circular Road lived in a state of fear as arsonists burnt down homes along the roadway.
The four homes which were targeted were all on the eastern side of the roadway, overlooking the valley between Clifton Hill and Beverly Hills, Laventille, and residents claimed that the homes were firebombed because gang members in the areas wanted a clearer view of their enemies as they went about their illegal activities.
And during a visit to these two communities last week following the arson attacks on Monday and Tuesday, residents from Clifton Hill told the Sunday Newsday that the arsonists have threatened to burn down the remaining homes.
Residents from Clifton Hill said that their community was mostly populated by children and elderly persons.
“Look around here. It’s just a bunch of elderly people and youths. But it’s their homes these gangsters targeting, and why? So they could get an easier view into the communities. So they could see who driving along the roadway and coming around the bend.
“These homes here on the eastern side blocking their view, and they came and threatened us all that they would burn down the other houses soon. But the thing is, this is not the first time we getting this kinda warning. If you look at the walls outside our home that facing the valleys... some of them have bullet holes. Some of our homes have already been shot up at. Every night here is a nightmare. When you wake up in the morning, you say your prayers because it is a miracle that you survived the night because gunshots always ringing,” explained one resident.
Residents claimed the gang war was not even between men from Clifton Hill but rather between the Beverly Hills gang and Low Place, Laventille.
“They not even at war with us. That is the hurtful part, because it is our families they targeting. They at war with men from Lowlands and them communities. But it all comes down to strategy.
They want to see the movements. They want to see who coming and going. And they will do whatever they want to get that advantage.
“They interfering with us. They shooting at us. They burning down our homes. Thankfully, they haven’t taken any lives and we have to praise God for that. But when you burn down a man’s home you take away everything he spent his life working towards. “You taking away all his accomplishments, all his blood and sweat, all his hard work, all his savings. That is almost as bad as murder itself. Yes, you can rebuild. But rebuilding a new life is no easy task. Not at all,” residents said.
They also noted that because of the increase in arson attacks, several residents have opted to move out of the hilly areas in Laventille, staying by friends and relatives in the lower communities such as John John.
“And can you really blame them? Yes, the police and soldiers are patrolling now. But they won’t always be here. It’s like last year. The police and Defence Force jump into this initiative together and we had so many weeks of peace and no murders. The place was nice. And then what happened? They relaxed. Their patrols were not as frequent. And the gangsters move back in and start back their nonsense.
“I don’t know if it’s because they don’t have the resources, or what, but this is not something they can relax with. The same way they push patrols this week, keep that up, and watch and see how little things really happen. I haven’t heard of an incident in the area since Wednesday. That is because we see the police and soldiers there. We can feel them here.
But let the police dare slack off and see what happens. I’m sorry to say this but them youths here like they will never grow up, and they need the constant eye of their parents and the police on them to behave,” residents said.
Some residents even claimed that contrary to media reports, the arsonists were not using Molotov cocktails and firebombs, but rather, they would arm themselves with gasoline and matches, and simply douse the homes and set them ablaze before running away.
What made the situation even more troubling, was the fact that Clifton Hill residents have claimed that they have not had water for about three weeks.
“Look the ones they burn on Tuesday. They just come, douse the home, and light it. They threaten us, saying they coming back for the others, and then they leave. We see the fire start. And we try to out it. We throw dirt on it, and call for help. But it had very little we could have done. It have no water in the area for about three weeks now. So we couldn’t even let’s say form a bucket brigade or anything like that. All we could have done was just stand there and watch the place burn,” residents said.
The most recent fire victims were Anthony Job and his sister, Lisa Job, whose homes were burnt on Tuesday at about 6 p.m. This came one day after their aunt’s home was burnt when the attackers set her neighbour’s house on fire.
Their aunt, Jacqueline Job, lost her home after arsonists set the homes of Ida Hercules, Antoinette Bibby and Duane Skeete on fire on Monday.
Before that, they torched the home of Andy Huggins and Makeda Romain. All the houses are on the same side of the street and with them gone, there is a clear line of sight between the two warring groups.
Resident Abigail Solomon moved out after her neighbours, Huggins and Romain, lost their home.
Member of Parliament Marlene McDonald has since stated that 36 people have been directly affected by the arson attacks. See Page 8