Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Violent Beetham protests anger CoP
Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams says it is time for the police to get tough with people who break the law. He made the comment yesterday at a function, hosted by the Citizen Security Programme in Port-of-Spain, in response to questions about continuing protests by Beetham Gardens residents over the police shooting of Christopher Greaves. Residents of the area began fiery protests on Sunday evening after Greaves, 23, was shot dead by police. They continued yesterday along the Eastern Main Road, Priority Bus Route (PBR) and Beetham Highway, with residents blocking the roadways with debris, confronting police and even throwing rocks and other pieces of debris at vehicles along the PBR and the highway.
During one of several confrontations between law enforcement teams and residents, soldiers fired shots into the air to disperse an angry crowd. In another such confrontation, the police used tear gas against the residents. Last night there was a tense calm in the community as law enforcement officers kept watch, hoping to prevent any further incidents. Yesterday, however, saying the police had to be “as co-operative as possible in identifying and recognising people's concern and their right to exercise their views and feelings towards matters,” Williams also said at some stage they also had to get tough during situations like those. He added: “I think we are at that point, where I think we need to get extremely tough. “Give the clear signal to the citizens: You have to follow the right way of bringing home your concerns. It is so wrong for people to be bringing their concerns to the inconvenience, and even by way of criminality, against other citizens. It is just wrong. “As a society, T&T, cannot continue to condone such behaviour by the citizens.”
Williams said everyone spoke of rights but wondered where were the rights of normal citizens travelling along the Beetham Highway, the Priority Bus Route and the Eastern Main Road whose vehicles were targeted by the Beetham Estate residents. He said he had no police reports but knew of media reports on the incidents, repeating that DCP Mervyn Richardson had the lead on the matter and he expected to be updated later yesterday. Asked about what the tough measures would be for residents who “step out of line,” he said they should be what the law required.
“If you block the road, obstructing the free passageway is an offence. It may not carry a massive penalty but it is a criminal offence and you need to exercise the law,” he said.
On the issue of protesting over an incident, Williams said: “In our system, we are a civil society and I hear a lot of people speak about what is supposed to take place in a civil society but what is supposed to take place is following the rule of law. “We have a system. If there is a situation where a member of society is shot and killed, there is supposed to be an investigation. We have a mechanism of a Police Complaints Authority which has a responsibility to investigate the matter. “And we have a system where we have an inquest court, where a coroner sitting at an inquest court will make a determination whether there is wrongdoing by the police and, if so, the coroner will give the direction in relation to criminal prosecution out of the inquest. “And that is the system we operate in a democratic and civil society. “It cannot be one where if you feel uncomfortable with a situation, your neighbour has a gun and you find that the neighbour should not be shot and killed in a confrontation, that you would protest. That cannot be right.” During yesterday’s ceremony, approximately US$150,000 worth of ICT equipment, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, including 45 computers, 12 high-resolution printers and software, was handed over to the CSP, which is headed by Gregory Sloane-Seale.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.