Friday, June 25, 2004

St. Lca: Mob rule: the Rodney King-ing of St. Lucia

The scene of reported chaos in the center of Castries was Wilton’s Yard with its own remarkable legend—including drug busts and at least one notorious murder.

When this reporter arrived a little after 1pm the chaos had been going on for several hours. Said a police officer at the scene: “Earlier this morning we made a raid for drugs in the Yard. Two large barrels of marijuana were confiscated. All of a sudden a gas bomb was thrown into the Crime Scene Unit vehicle. It caught fire. The inside of the vehicle is completely gutted. The officers came under some heavy resistance from people living in the area. They threw bottles at the police, rocks, anything else they could get their hands on. Everytime the police moved in closer, a shower of debris hailed on them. Thankfully, nobody has been hurt.”

As the afternoon wore on the atmosphere became more volatile. Gangs of angry young people hurled all kinds of missiles at the police. They could do little more than move out of the way.
Said an eye-witness: “At first only eight SSU officers were involved in the raid. But things quickly got out of control and the officers were forced to call for backup. Then an angry mob started throwing gas bombs. A couple of houses caught fire. Some people quickly moved in with water buckets and Jerry cans. Thankfully they were able to put out the flames. The police have no control whatsoever. A wrecker came in to move the burnt out police vehicle but the mob moved in, preventing the vehicle’s removal.”

As we spoke three plain-clothed SSU officers with M16s tried to make their way up the Morne Du Don hill. More rocks and bottles rained on them. The SSU finally ran for cover.
A woman stopped the reporter with her own complaint: “The police came this morning. They fired shots. You cannot do that among the people’s children.”

Said another eyewitness, “They fired in the air. The people complained and they continued shooting with children everywhere looking on. Everyone panicked. We’ve had enough of the rough arm of the law. Sarah Flood is not here now. We’re taking over. Boy this thing is going to go far. Everybody is on the warpath. I think the best thing the police can do is leave the area. We’re heading for a national emergency. Wait until dark.”
If the residents of Wilton's Yard think the answer to their problems is to trash their neighborhood, well, they're the ones who'll have to live with it.


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