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Residents hide behind steel doors
At Block Eight in Laventille, residents, fearing for their lives and that of their loved ones, are hastily replacing their wooden doors with heavy steel doors. And once in their homes, residents said, the steel doors lend momentary protection from members of the rival Beverly Hills gang. After the strangling death of ten-year-old Tecia Henry more than a year ago, a police post was permanently placed at Plaisance Terrace, a gateway between Block Eight and Beverly Hills. Several young men from Block Eight said while the presence of the lawmen had assisted in reducing serious crime, the community was still plagued by criminal elements.
They added that the war among rival gangs had been far from over, adding that some were bent on fanning the fires of hate and discord.
A 22-year-old Block Eight man said residents were forced to install steel doors after repeated robbery “attacks,” some of which brazenly occured during the day. He recalled a recent incident where Beverly Hills gang members tried to enter his home by pounding the front door with a sledgehammer. But their attempts were futile since the door was steel. The perpetrators then targeted his next door neighbour. They easily entered her home by breaking down the wooden door and then went on a shooting spree in her living room, the resident recalled. He said: “Right now nearly everybody have steel door in Block Eight. That is how it is if you have to be safe. Is right through Beverly Hills men coming here and innocent people getting hurt and they don’t care.
“The police post right they and Beverly Hills men still coming down,” he added. According to the resident, while some genuinely wished for an end to the “war” and longed for a united Laventille, that realisation may not be part of the immediate future. “It have people who riding with certain men and they don’t want the war to end...is hate right through,” he said. “They don’t want people to live free in the area. They don’t want people to come across by them so it will always have that division.” Pleading that the police maintain their vigil in Laventille and increase their visibility by conducting more foot patrols, the resident said if the officers were to be relocated, then “all hell would break lose.” “The word is that the police getting fed-up...But right now people walking and coming outside and going to work and if the police gone that go be the end of that,” he said. “Everybody go be running and hiding again.”
He said even Tecia’s murder failed to convince gang members to surrender their weapons. And the implementation of the Tecia Henry peace pact also failed to stop crime in Laventille. “That didn’t change nothing...The fellas up there are snitchers (informants), so the peace go come for a short while and it go start back and so it going because nobody cannot trust nobody,” the resident added. He said since the murder of Block Eight’s gang leader, Ricardo “Docs” Mc Carthy, which occurred a few days after Tecia’s decomposing body was discovered stuffed in a hole under a John John house, there had been no successor. “But we watching we base, we watching them people,” he said. “Them Beverly Hills men does rob people and burn down people house, that is how they does operate.
“We does defend the people down here. We don’t want to know that a man mother come out and she get rob right there and then you have to go the police and the police right there. “We go do what we have to do,” the resident said. In bid clamp down on criminal elements, Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs has initiated a continuous lockdown of hot spots, the latest initiative being the lockdown in Laventille last Wednesday. But according to the resident, the police were being “outsmarted” as illegal weapons were not hidden in homes. “They would not hide it in the house because they know it go have people who does be talking,” he said. “Is either they does be hiding the guns in the ground or in the bush out the road." Debra Mitchell, whose son Kern, 17, was shot dead by police about two years ago in Laventille, expressed little faith in the Police Service.
Mitchell, who said she had not to come to terms with her grief, called on the police to be less aggressive in the way they conducted their duties. “I have to get much stronger again...I try to build myself after what I went through, but my son death should not be in vain,” she said. “I don't really deal with any police because everything does come back to me. My son was innocent. He was running away when the police shot.” Echoing sentiments that the peace pact was not working, Mitchell, a Laventille resident for some 25 years, said “everybody kept in their corner.” She said: “It not working how it suppose to be working. Everybody have their point and they remain in that point. “Over the years crime just keep getting worse here,”she said.
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