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Glass bottle fight mars J’Ouvert celebrations
At least three people were injured as two groups clashed between French Street and Adam Smith Square on Ariapita Avenue during J’Ouvert celebrations yesterday morning. Glass bottles were the weapons of choice for the two groups. Around 7.30 am, revellers started running wildly for escape when a group of men armed with glass bottles ran out of French Street and started aiming at another group. Police, who were stationed at the John Donaldson Technical Institute on Wrightson Road, responded immediately after seeing the bottles flying through the air.
An officer, responding to questions from the Guardian, said he believed the incident involved two warring groups from East and West Laventille. Police removed one woman from the scene by placing her in the back of a jeep, while another woman sat holding her leg as she leaned against a wall near on Ariapita Avenue. A man lay in his friend’s lap as blood ran down his chest and back from a head injury. For the past two years, former Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing had been lobbying to get glass bottles banned from the city streets. Lee Sing at the time had cited the incidents of violence as the reason to have the bottles, which were frequently used as weapons, banned during Carnival time.
However, in an interview last week, Lee Sing’s successor Mayor Raymond Tim Kee said he did not support the ban on glass bottles for environmental reasons. During an interview after the city corporation’s monthly statutory meeting in city hall Tim Kee said, while glass bottles were easy to recycle, plastics were more hazardous to the environment. The incident occurred despite a heavy police presence throughout the city.
Police were seen observing groups of revellers on almost every corner in Woodbrook, St Clair, Wrightson Road, near the Queen’s Park Savannah and in downtown Port-of-Spain. National Security helicopters hovered over the city, shining bright lights over streets that were obscured by darkness even before J’Ouvert celebrations began at 4 am. Police vehicles made circles through streets and groups of armed officers stood watchful over crowds.