KINGSTON — Angry vendors in downtown Kingston yesterday staged a demonstration on Orange Street to protest against what they described as the unfair treatment being meted out to them by the police.
The vendors claimed they have become targets by the police who have intensified operations to remove vendors from the sidewalks of the commercial district.
“The police them a treat us unfairly; they take away our carts and goods and we don’t get them back [and] at times when our goods are returned they are damaged or the quantity is less,” one vendor told the Jamaica Observer.
Some of the vendors shouted at the police while bearing placards, some of which read: ‘Where is the prime minister’; ‘School fees and bills need to be paid’.
One vendor, Cornelia McDonald, who has been selling in downtown Kingston for more than a decade, described her experience with police officers as tormenting and abusive.
“Them a seize our goods, dash them away and we are being locked up, fined and required to pay up to $11,000 for their return sometimes,” McDonald said.
“Me get beaten from police four weeks ago. Them beat me up and pepper spray me, then took me to the police station. After I was released my handbag with my money, keys and documents were missing and none of them could give an account. Even though this happens we are still being charged”, McDonald further stated.
She said that while she understands the effort the police were making to remove vendors from the streets, the market to which they have been being directed does not have enough space.
“It’s graduation time now and they are seizing our goods, how we children a go manage, they are stopping our job and a our ‘pickney’ a go feel it,” said McDonald.
One female vendor claimed that she was told to become a prostitute to earn money when she asked the police about an alternative job when her goods were seized. “They said you affi go work a New Kingston (to sell body) if you can’t make a profit anyway else,” she said. (Observer)