POLICE were last night investigating threats to set fire to Newsday's Port of Spain office after a photograph of an elderly woman in her underwear was published on the front page of the newspaper yesterday.
The 81-year-old woman was shown as one of many residents of Beetham Gardens who were protesting the death of 23-year-old Christopher Greaves, who was killed by police officers in the area on Sunday evening.
However, Inez Lewis said she was not part of the protest, and that the photograph of her was taken on a prior occasion after her grandson was assaulted by police officers.
Yesterday, Beetham residents burnt copies of the Newsday and embarked on a boycott of the newspaper during a demonstration in the area. The residents said Newsday deliberately published the photograph in an attempt to cause further stigmatisation and embarrassment to the people of the area and, in particular, Lewis and her family.
“An old woman, in her underwear? That is what you would publish in the newspaper for the whole country and the world to see? The country should burn every single copy of the Newsday. From now on, it's a boycott of the Newsday. The story was fake, too. We never say 'No remorse' (the headline in yesterday's Newsday),” one Beetham resident said.
The photograph showed Lewis pulling her dress up to her chest, revealing her underwear.
The image has since gone viral on social networking sites such as Facebook, with many users of those sites expressing disappointment and disgust over the newspaper's decision to publish the photo.
Beetham residents said upon closer examination of the photograph, which showed Lewis among other protesting residents, they came to the conclusion that it was a composite photograph (two photos made into one).
“So it was deliberate. Out of all the photographs you have, you would take your time and Photoshop two photos into one to embarrass us?” they asked.
The residents later held up a copy of the newspaper and proceeded to set it on fire.
Lewis spoke with reporters at Beetham Gardens yesterday following the demonstration, and stated she came to tears after seeing herself on the front page of the newspaper. “I said Father Lord, look how they have me. Look at my condition on papers. An old 81-year-old woman like me? I say I wonder if they know that I natural or if is something gone wrong? And I started to cry. People had to console me,” she said.
Lewis told reporters she was a mental patient who would “trip at the slightest thing”.
She said after learning that her grandson was being beaten, she went to the scene to see what was taking place, but she was not allowed to do so by the police.
“I couldn't take they taking advantage of him. What happen with that boy it hurt me, and when I study the little child, he never disrespect me. He was a loving, loving child. So when I going there now to see what they doing with the young man, the police say 'no, go back home'.
“I could bring my mental papers from St Ann's for you, I have all my tablets, I have everything. The slightest thing would trip me, and then I suffering with the heart and with the pressure. Why they do me that? Lewis asked.
Late yesterday evening, Port of Spain Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officers said the newspaper made a report expressing concerns over threats it had received concerning the publication of the image.
The Express was told by reliable sources at the CID office that a team of detectives had been put together to investigate the threats.
ASP Ajith Persad is spearheading the probe. • See Page 8.