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Hard measures coming

Warner after Beetham protests:

By Renuka Singh

National Security Minister Jack Warner and Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday said they were going to utiliise the "hard" police approach to curb the threat of violence in the Beetham Gardens area.

"There are two options, you know...hard and soft, and we gave them the soft options, which we hoped that others would have embraced and many have embraced it. But for those who have not embraced the soft options, there will be a price to pay," said Warner.

The Minister made the statements in response to questions from reporters after he handed out commemorative medals to all Heads of Divisions at the Ministry of National Security on Abercromby Street, Port of Spain.

Weeks ago, Warner, Williams and several top security personnel met with residents in a bid to better understand the challenges in that area.

"After talking to these people and giving them the soft options, if they allow these pseudo, quasi politicians in their society to force them to do what they are doing then we have to go to the hard options," Warner said.

"These things are politically motivated," he added.

On Wednesday evening, residents of Beetham Gardens blocked Beetham Highway with burning debris to protest the lack of jobs in the area. Though the roads were cleared quickly, on Thursday night, reports surfaced that residents were threatening to once again block the highway.

"We are taking that very seriously. We know who the guys are, we know who said what and we shall deal with it," Warner said.

"There are guys outside there who were pipsqueaks when the PNM (People's National Movement) was in power and today they believe they are powerful. Well I tell you what goes around comes around and who was a pipsqueak then shall return to being a pipsqueak tomorrow.

"Nobody, no organisation, no group will be allowed to blackmail Mrs Persad-Bissessar's Government or this country. Nobody," he said.

Williams said the police had "zero tolerance" for illegal protesters and would be utilising hard policing methods to ensure that roads were not blocked.

"Regarding the issues around Beetham we have provided security arrangements to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic in and out of Port of Spain," he said.

Williams said while citizens would continue to have concerns, there were "ways and means" to air their dissatisfaction.

"I have gone public to say that we do not support, in any form or fashion, people blocking roads and burning tyres. We have zero tolerance on that," he said.

Williams said there were legal ways to protest and the trade unions used that legal option by getting permission to hold their marches.

"It is not acceptable for people to be burning tyres and blocking roads and we will be tough on that whether it's Beetham or any other area," he said.

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