KINGSTON – One week after a vendor was allegedly beaten by a police officer on King Street in downtown Kingston, the Kingston Central police are still investigating the matter.
The woman cop who was involved in the incident was also reportedly injured.
Last week Thursday, irate vendors marched to the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation and the office of the Public Defender, demanding justice for their colleague, Charmaine Terrelonge, who they said was beaten by the police officer.
According to superintendent of police Robert Gordon, the policewoman was on her way to the Circuit Court when she got into a confrontation with the vendor in the vicinity of Kingston Bookshop, minutes after 8 a.m.
“When she went there she asked for a number for someone and that was how the conversation started. When she asked for the number, there was some back and forth, and then after that the confrontation,” superintendent Gordon told the Jamaica Observer last week.
While noting that the incident is being investigated, Gordon said: “The police must always conduct themselves in a professional manner and, likewise, the citizens must understand that police is a figure of authority, and if the police give certain instructions where breaches are observed, then it is expected that they will comply. The police have a duty to ensure that law and order is maintained.”
The superintendent also said that two vendors who were involved in the melee were charged.
The placard-bearing vendors told the Observer during the march along King and Duke streets last week Thursday that their colleague, who they referred to as Nicky, was brutally beaten.
“The police lady come say she a ask fi di book man. We asked her which book man? She say, ‘Di one weh ever lean up pon di car’. So same time she (Nicky) turn to har and say, ‘Mi have him number; mi a him sister’. So she (policewoman) say she want his number.
“Nicky say, ‘Mi will call him’. So she fan her off and say, ‘A suh yuh going to mek him miss a $20,000 sale’. So Nicky say, ‘So gwaan den nuh, wid di $20,000’. And she (policewoman) turn and say, ‘Be careful enuh’,; and Nicky say, ‘Be careful fi wah? Mi nah gi yuh him number ‘cause mi nuh know if a come yuh come fi lock him up or wah’,” one vendor alleged.
The alleged eyewitness continued: “The policewoman walk go down a Kingston Bookshop and stand up. Yuh see when she stand up so, mi see one jeep a come up di road. You only see di woman come up di road and kick di bench and tek out the baton out of her waist and start lik Nicky. Nicky did have a cup a tea in her hand and she bounce out the tea and just start beat her.”
According to the eyewitness, “From me live on God earth mi always hear ‘bout police brutality but a di fuss me see police beat woman. All her clothes tear off.”
Another vendor, Denise Lindsay, said the police are acting as if they are above the law.
“The mayor give us the road to sell on. The mayor said we can sell, but we must stay on one side and we must give the people them walkway. The mayor is a good man but the police dem a fight and a torment wi, and a beat wi and a do wi a bag a things fi nothing at all.
“Take out pepper spray, burst up the girl head a while ago, and do her bare things. A policeman a take out di pepper spray to spray in a di girl eye. So me wah di government fi deal with this ‘cause a poor people put unnuh weh unnuh deh. Unnuh fi stop torment poor people, unnuh too wicked,” Lindsay, a mother of three who has been vending for more than 20 years, told the Observer.
Admitting that she is illiterate, Lindsay nevertheless said she wants her children to get university degrees.
Pointing out that being a vendor is the way she makes a living, she suggested that the relevant authorities should find an area to which they can be relocated.
Another frustrated vendor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he is tired of playing cat-and-mouse games with the police.
“Wi never see police a run down a thief like how dem run down higgler yet. Them tek set on higgler more than how dem tek set on the thief dem. Thief rob woman down the road and police deh up di road and mi nuh see dem run dem down, but yet still as dem see higgler a collect a dollar fi a shirt or anything dem run dem down.
“Dem mash up wi box dem; dem come with pickaxe, ‘lass (machete) like a war dem a come war wid higgler. Di only ting wi do is sit down and sell fi mek money fi wi pickney dem can go to school. We nuh have no work. We wah know weh dem aguh deal wid fi di higgler dem. This been going on for far too long now. Every Saturday [and] during the week, we cyaah sell, so what we going to eat? Sooner or later we cyaah cook no ‘red rice’ on Sunday.
A shopper, who allegedly witnessed the incident, was adamant that the police should have dealt with the situation differently. (Jamaica Observer)