PORT OF SPAIN — Gang members from east Port of Spain, John John traded shots with the police yesterday afternoon as rioting broke out in the area when some residents accused the police of brutality.
Up to last night there was a tense calm in John John and parts of Beverly Hills, but while the mostly male residents were promising that the battle was not over, the police said they would remain in place until the situation had been normalised.
The residents who spoke to reporters claimed that around 3 p.m. officers on patrol grabbed a young man from the John John area and dropped him off at Duncan Street, Port of Spain.
Several young men at the John John basketball court said that “everyone knows” there was a gang war between John John and Duncan Street and this led to the John John man being beaten and his locks chopped off by the rival gang.
Another man claimed he saw a woman being beaten and dragged by a soldier and while the media were present they taunted both the police and soldiers on the scene, telling them: “We don’t want allyuh police here. They does do we all kinda thing.”
As a result, the residents blocked parts of Picton Road. They then opted to block a lay-by road near St. Phillips Primary School.
The lay-by road is parallel to St. Joseph Road, heading east, and the blocking of that road would have led to a gridlock of vehicles out of Port of Spain. But when officers began removing the debris that had already been set alight they came under a volley of gun-fire.
Some officers who were on scene said they felt the breeze of the bullets whizzing past them.
One officer pointed to a hole in a wall which he claimed was caused by the projectile from an AK 47.
As weary John John and Beverly Hills residents were arriving home between 5 and 6 p.m., they were urged by the police not to continue walking up or driving along Picton Road as their safety could not be guaranteed.
“Sir, you will be proceeding at your own risk,” one officer was heard telling a motorist.
Some residents heeded the call and turned around. Others proceeded but drove very slowly, with the windows down. (Express)