“I think the Muslim who is real Muslim in this country not at war, and who is real Rastafarian is not at war. This is a bunch of clowns with guns.”
That was the response of community leader Cedric “Burkie” Burke to the supposed ongoing gang war between the Muslim and Rasta City gangs yesterday, in the wake of the drive-by shooting that took place along Pioneer Drive, Sea Lots, on Sunday night that left two dead and six others injured. The attack was believed to have been a hit on Burke.
However, Burke and other community leaders in East Port-of-Spain have been warned to keep the peace by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.
Speaking frankly to Guardian Media in Sea Lots yesterday, Burke said the time for mourning was limited and the community needed to pick up the pieces. He condemned the violent act that snuffed out the lives of his friends Rawlye Williams, 37 and calypsonian Patrick “Revealer” Lewis, who were killed after men from a vehicle opened fire on a group of men playing a game of poker.
“It is an illiterate, unfortunate situation. A bunch of cowards to attack a bunch of normal people just sitting down liming to be attacked for no reason. Everybody in Trinidad and Tobago faces the illiteracy and everybody run and say gang-related and says it is Muslim and Rasta,” an upset Burke said.
Three days after the shooting, with funeral arrangements still being finalised, an uneasy calm has returned to the streets of Sea Lots.
Burke, however, dismissed rumours that the attack was a direct message to him and said it had not fazed him.
“It takes much more than that for me to be afraid. I was in my house and it had an earthquake, the hardest earthquake I feel and nobody could control that. So if you have to be afraid, you have to be afraid it will have an earthquake or a storm or you get in an accident. So I don’t live afraid, so things like that will never get me to be afraid.”
Guardian Media was informed that Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith visited Burke in the area on Tuesday night and urged him to keep the peace. Burke yesterday confirmed he spoke to the Commissioner.
“We had a brief conversation and he gave us a form of comfort by letting us know he understands it wasn’t our fault and we were not the one who attacked. He gave us the assurance that the police presence in the community was not meant to be intimidating or harassing us, but for our protection and for when we were having the wake,” Burke said.
“After talking to him we know he is facing challenges. He was simple and sounded genuine. He didn’t add salt to our wounds.”
Also contacted yesterday, Griffith confirmed that he had spoken to Burke and another community leader in the Port-of-Spain area on the same night and warned both to keep the peace.