Mixed views on police/army post
By JULIEN NEAVES Saturday, August 17 2013
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Police on duty at the corner of Duncan and Prince Streets yesterday in response to the killings on Wednesday....
THERE were mixed views by residents of Duncan Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday to the establishment of a joint police/army post at one of the buildings following a spike in murders in the area.
Keith Clarke, 53 and living in the area for 16 years, said he loved the idea and believes it will help keep the crime down.
“Best thing (Government) ever do in their whole life,” he said.
He lamented that crime was “really getting out of hand.”
“I glad they doing something. Who doing the killing not getting killed but innocent people children,” he said.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the plan on Thursday during a tour of Duncan Street one day after the murders of two 16-year-old cousins. Naim Chester Antoine was dragged from his bed at an apartment on Duncan Street, taken to George Street and shot 15 times, and Rasheeda Gomez was shot and killed on Duncan Street.
Antoine’s elder brother, 21-year-old Shaquille Rogers, tattooed “Naim” on his neck yesterday in honour of his late brother. He said his brother was frail “like a baby” and if you held his hand too roughly you could break it. He described those who murdered him as “a failure.” He was not in support of the police/army post, noting that they would not feel safer with the policemen and soldiers.
On Thursday Persad-Bissessar also reported there would be an increased police presence in the area as part of crime-fighting efforts. When Newsday visited yesterday there were two police officers at the top of Duncan Street and a vehicle passed at one point. One male resident said that “only God could help this. No police post.” He noted that he was not seeing more police than usual as the area was “always hot.”
He questioned why Duncan Street was being targeted by police when the killers were from outside the area. He also claimed the police would come to the street at night and “beat up” the youths.
“They say they don’t want you liming,” he added. Another male resident said if they had been liming outside they could have prevented Antoine being taken away and killed. A third male resident said he did not trust the police.
Community activist and resident Hazel Smith told Newsday if the police/army post saves lives then she was in support of it. “I don’t want to see our young black men dead,” she said. She noted that her own nephew was killed over “gangsta business”, though she had tried to talk to him about his future when he was alive. On the wall behind her someone had written on the wall: “RIP Naim”.
Smith suggested that to stop the crime the Government has to find permanent jobs for the people with a structured salary and health care. She said she “hated” temporary programmes like CEPEP, URP and Colour Me Orange, questioning what people would do during the long “down times.” She also called for homework centres for the children with qualified teachers. A homework centre was also suggested to the Prime Minister during her tour.
Cheryl Stowe, 58, said she has no problem with the post but wants to be relocated. “We have no choice right now,” she added.
She is caring for her 78-year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s. She had noticed police patrolling but had not seen much of them.
Leader of Government Business Dr Roodal Moonilal, speaking with the media later at the offices of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), said when he visited Duncan Street a lot of HDC residents said they wanted to be relocated.
“That may change if they know a police post, an army post, is present in the estate itself. People may not be as scared. But certainly those who have applied for relocation we are looking at it on a case by case basis,” he said. He noted the post should be functional by the second week of September. He also reported that when Parliament is reconvened in about two weeks they will be having ongoing discussions with the Opposition on the crime agenda.
Yesterday police reported they held 30 men between Thursday and yesterday morning on Duncan Street, Nelson Street and John John, Laventille, under the anti-gang legislation. The men were handed over to the Criminal Gang and Intelligence Unit.
HDC Managing Director Jerlean John said she has not received any reports of relatives of the victims wishing to be relocated.
Questioned about possible refurbishment works on Duncan Street, she noted the HDC “did a lot of work there last year” at Christmas following complaints by residents. She pointed out, “They are very old buildings so what they need more or less is a relocation and a rebuilding, which has been on the cards.”