Monday, January 22, 2018

Traffic flows freely

Despite threats of protest action...


SMOKY VIEW: A flock of pigeons fly past a backdrop of thick smoke at the Beetham landfill yesterday. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

Mark Fraser

DESPITE threats by Beetham Gardens residents to carry out further protest action yesterday following the shooting of one of their own by police officers on Sunday, the area remained relatively calm yesterday.

However, there was a heavy police presence in the area.

There were no reports of any blockage of the Beetham Highway or the Priority Bus Route (PBR) by the residents up to yesterday evening as they had threatened.

For most of the day, however, thick smoke emanated from the Beetham landfill forcing several offices in the area and downtown Port of Spain to close their doors for the day.

Fires were set at 12 different locations in the landfill,  the Solid Waste Management  Co Ltd (Swmcol) reported.

Whether the fires were part of the protest action,  Minister of National Security Gary Griffith could not confirm.

During a brief telephone interview, Griffith said he could not directly link the fires to Sunday’s incident during which a Beetham resident was shot in the leg by police close to the landfill after he allegedly threw rocks at their vehicle.

“The area remains calm. There is no disruption in traffic or anything because we have put systems in place to prevent any type of protest that could result in traffic congestion along the highway or bus route,” said Griffith.

The minister said since the incident on Sunday, officers were dispatched to the area to ensure the safety of motorists and the travelling public who may have had to venture close to Beetham Gardens to get into or out of the capital.

He said despite there not being any protests, the officers would remain in the area for as long as necessary to prevent any type of illegal action.

On Sunday morning, there was a stand-off between residents and officers following the shooting of the 26-year-old man.

Police said they were on mobile patrol around 9 a.m. along the highway when they noticed the man throwing stones at their vehicle.

The officers said they told the man to stop but he refused and continued throwing larger rocks.

It was then that one of the officers fired a warning shot, before shooting the man in one of his legs.

Residents on the other hand denied the police’s version of what had taken place. They claimed the man was constantly being victimised by the officers. They said he was walking along the highway when the officers stopped their vehicle and opened fire on him. At no point was he throwing rocks at the police car, they said.

Up to yesterday evening, the man was a patient at the Port of Spain General Hospital under police guard.

When released from the hospital, police said he will be charged with throwing missiles and damaging government property.