Twenty four hours after two of their "boys" were arrested at the Hyatt Regency Hotel last Friday morning, Sea Lots East yesterday was grave quiet, almost serenely so. The two alleged gang leaders, identified as Cedric Burke and Keon Baine, are reported to have originated from the small, depressed seaside pocket of Port-of-Spain, south of the Central Market. Following the arrest at the Hyatt, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan confirmed they came from East Port-of-Spain. Port-of-Spain South Member of Parliament, Marlene Mc Donald, monitoring how the state of emergency was affecting constituents, yesterday acknowledged reports the duo were from her constituency.
Now, mid way through the state of emergency and after Friday's arrest of the Hyatt duo, Sea Lots East yesterday was a place where nobody was interested in allowing a journalist to take photographs of them or give their full names for interviews. Young or old. One woman warned about asking for directions, or people, which would flag the questioner as a stranger to the area. People peered from vehicles watching those being interviewed. Nobody was acknowledging Burke and Bain as their "hoss" or their "dawg" (street talk for partner). But a barebacked youth on the east side of Pioneer Drive and his friends were candid about the state of emergency (SOE).
Moving out of reach of the tape recorder, he said: "The police doing dey wuk, but dey rolling drastic. They is be doing real outta time things. "On Tuesday, in the street on dat (south east) block they kick down the people door and take their gold and $8,000. People have to watch theyself with police touching people thing." Ms MJ, 30s-ish in tight jeans and red top, had other issues. She said: "Single mothers have to earn money in the state of emergency too. I hear Kamla say she have ting in place, but that must be for big business-what about single mothers who have to come out at night to make their dollars?
"Is school time. I price my kids' books and it total $7,000. When you can't come out at night-and dat is how some single mothers have to make it out here-what you go do? A whole week work you lose!" MJ added: "When I work sometimes I pick up $2,000 or $3,000. Now you can't work at night as you have to lock up and go in. It unfair to residents. I know the police doing they job, but you have to understand it have poor people out here. We ent like big business who could make back the money we lose this week." Joel V, a well preserved 60s-ish man who has lived in Sea Lots since 1957 said: "I enjoying it (SOE). I go and lie down after I listen to the news and I sleep at ease, in peace."
"I know the law moving according to information they have and who they harassing or looking for is because they know what they doing. I enjoying it, man. When the night come in the past month, every night you hearing gunshots in George Hill and Picton Hill. Every night like Vietnam. Now I sleeping in peace. I ent mind if it go on for the next month." Joel added: "Who against this curfew is people who don't think for next week, next month or next year. Those who living fast, they dying young. They don't care about next month, next year-simple as that. "As long as you thinking about a future and you want to live into your old age, is one thing. But some of them don't want that-they living too fast." Mr V added.
Irwin aka "Rush" who has lived at Pioneer Drive all of his 39 years added: "Sooner or later it (SOE) was coming because people couldn't walk the street safe. Government hadda do something. You can't blame them or the police... I just hope after this everything work out for the best." East Dry River councillor Ayesha Wells supports her burgesses-four of whom were murdered in one day last month-as well as proper procedures in the SOE. Heavily pregnant Wells-due to enter labour today-was in Sea Lots East with the Sunday Guardian yesterday.
Wells said: "I'm all for cracking down on gangs and crime but the manner in which it is done, and if we're catching those we need to, is my concern. I'm bringing my third child into the world and deeply concerned about what is happening with the African male locally. "I hope we don't arrest the wrong people and we get the right one. I don't expect the big fish will be netted because they could jump on a plane and go anywhere. So when you say they catch 'big fish' at the Hyatt it doesn't add up." Wells said that she hoped the state of emergency brings results, but she noted that it was also creating much discomfort. "One of my burgesses reported police kicking down doors in Basilon Street and taking people randomly. One youth with no known record was taken in Mango Rose, we learned. Another told me police seem to come with a 'quota' to handle."