Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Activist: Protests won’t stop until probe starts
Even as they faced condemnation from some quarters yesterday, including from the MP for their area, Beetham Gardens residents vowed to continue their protests over the police killing of resident Christopher Greaves until they get justice. In an interview last evening, Beetham community activist Anderson Wilson said if the police continued to “fight fire with fire” they can expect more violent protests from the residents for the rest of the week. At around 5 pm, Wilson said the protests in the area, which led to an exchange of gunfire between residents, police and the army, had “cooled down”. “For now, things are quiet but I don’t know how long that will last. It is not a nice day for Beetham. Between yesterday (Sunday) and today, it has not been nice in this community,” wilson added.
He said, however, that the level of hate and vitriol being directed at the police would continue until the incidents which led to the death of Greaves, 23, were properly investigated. Greaves was shot and killed by police on Sunday while on his way to a neighbourhood shop. Wilson added: “The young man was a good young man. I am sure he did not have any criminal record. “You can see young children crying, old people and people that can’t even walk properly coming out to speak out.” He said what angered the residents even more than the shooting was the lack of respect shown to Greaves’ family and the community. “So far we haven’t seen a minister or a person in authority telling us they will intervene. They ain’t even come and say, let we mamaguy them,” he said. Wilson added that he wanted the protests to end but said there needed to be an investigation and the police needed to find better ways of engaging the community.
He felt the police method of dealing with residents yesterday was more aggressive than necessary. “They are trying to fight fire with fire. This is already a situation where you are dealing with people who feel left out of society,” he said, adding police regularly came to the community and treated residents like animals. “The police are the reason why people are acting this way. They have made residents here hate the police,” he added. Wilson said while he would like to see the community move past that stage, he felt the response to Sunday’s killing of Greaves would continue. “Today is a sad day for Beetham and I think it would be a sad week,” he added. Laventille West MP Nileung Hypolite, however, yesterday “condemned totally” the acts of violence committed by the protesting residents. He said if police officers were guilty of any wrongdoing “they should be dealt with.”
Hypolite spoke with the T&T Guardian following hours of heightened protest action by residents against the police. While admitting he sympathised with the protesting residents, he said that was not the course of action to be taken to resolve the matter. He said he also wanted to “condemn totally the uncivilised behaviour of pelting missiles at vehicles. I condemn it.” The Opposition MP said the people of Beetham Gardens were human beings like those who live in east Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, Valsayn, Mayaro and elsewhere. At the time of the interview, Hypolite said: “Beetham is calm but remains agitated.” If the protesting residents “don’t get answers,” he said, “it will remain that way.” Hypolite said yesterday’s developments were especially unfortunate because they came after a very successful inter-faith service and sports and family day involving the police and Beetham Gardens residents on Saturday. “It was an extremely great event,” he added. Hypolite said he did not know what transpired subsequently but he regretted the latest developments. “It is only the police and residents who can explain what happened on Sunday as I was not there,” he added. Calls to National Security Minister Emmanuel George’s mobile phone for comment went unanswered yesterday.
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