road rage: Residents of Mt D'or Road, Champs Fleurs, block the roadway with boulders while protesting the killing of Atiba Duncan by police on Wednesday night. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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Fiery protests cut off East-West Corridor

Riot police called out for hundreds

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

CHAOS and confusion reigned along the East-West Corridor yesterday as transportation was all but halted when two of the three major roadways in the Mt D'or area were blocked by burning debris.

The Eastern Main Road, in the vicinity of Mt D'or Road; and the Priority Bus Route (PBR), near the entrance to the Carib Brewery, were both blocked with burning debris yesterday.

For over an hour yesterday, vehicles were unable to travel along the two affected major roadways.

Burning debris was placed on the two roadways by residents from Upper Mt D'or Road, who are upset with the killing of 27-year-old Atiba Duncan on Wednesday night by police.

While Duncan was liming and smoking marijuana outside a popular shop in the area known as Stephen's Grocery, police approached, residents said.

Duncan ran.

Residents claimed police opened fire on Duncan, who was unarmed.

Duncan was killed.

Residents, upset with the manner in which Duncan was killed, yesterday took to the streets to display their displeasure.

Stones, old appliances and pieces of wood were among discarded items placed in various sections of the lengthy Mt D'or Road yesterday morning.

Around 2 p.m., the residents relocated from Mt D'or Road and took their protest to the Priority Bus Route and Eastern Main Road.

Buses, maxi-taxis, cars and other modes of transportation were prevented from passing along the two roadways.

Traffic was diverted south to the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.

The protests are said to have affected the delivery services of the nearby Carib Brewery and West Indian Tobacco Company (Witco) factory.

Maxi-taxis, which were unable to pass, ordered passengers to disembark and seek other means of transportation to reach their destination.

Filled buses pulled to the side of the road and parked.

There was standstill traffic as smoke billowed from the burning debris.

Some passengers became pedestrians as they opted to walk past the burning debris, in an attempt to reach their destinations.

Maxi-taxis and other vehicles were also reportedly being stoned by angry residents.

Police officers at the scene called for back-up as hundreds of residents chanted, clapped, screamed and drummed their disapproval over Duncan's death.

The Special Anti-Crime Unit (SAUTT) helicopter responded around 3 p.m.

As the helicopter hovered overhead, officers of the Fire Service battled to extinguish the debris.

After the debris was extinguished, a tractor cleared the roadways.

Heavily armed officers of the Guard and Emergency Branch of the Police Service arrived to ensure the situation did not materialise into a full-scale riot.

Employees from nearby Witco and Carib Brewery looked on in horror from inside their secured office compounds.

Residents have promised to continue their protests until the police come clean on Duncan's death.

Two investigators from the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) yesterday visited the area and spoke to residents.

An investigation by the PCA has been immediately launched.

Kion Williams, the councillor for Petit Bourg/Champs Fleurs and Mt Lambert; along with Richard Jeremiah, president of the Mt D'or Village Council; and Hassan Maraj, youth officer for the Mt D'or Village Council, were yesterday on hand to support the residents.

Herbert Volney, the Member of Parliament for St Joseph, was not present.

Today, the Africa small-goal football side is expected to continue defending its title as the area's best five-a-side football team in the Sky Con- nections Waka Waka tournament.

Africa's title defence, however, has been seriously hampered by the death of Duncan.

Duncan, nicknamed "Happy Feet", was described as one of the stars of the winning football team.

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