Moruga protests over killings by police, ministers turn back

(Trinidad Guardian) A ministerial team, on its way to bring aid to Moruga residents, had to abort the trip yesterday as hundreds of angry villagers intensified their protest over last weekend’s incident in which three people were shot dead by police officers.

Minister of Works and Infrastructure Jack Warner; Glenn Ramadharsingh, Minister of the People and Social Development; and Clifton de Coteau, Minister in the Ministry of Education, had to abandon the trip in Princes Town when told villagers blocked the roadway in front of the St Mary’s Police Station, Moruga. The ministers were on their way to visit Moruga residents as part of Ramadharsingh’s on-going direct effect meet the people campaign.  As angry villagers blocked the road in front of the station which is short staffed, officers stood by helplessly as they waited for reinforcement. Men and women dragged old tractor trailers, tree trunks, tyres and slabs of concrete across the road. They littered the road with debris, beer bottles and chanted: “Them police eh know the trouble they in, them police eh know.”

Villagers chipped to the rhythmic drumming, even as the relatives of the deceased—Kerron Eccles, 26, Abigail Johnson, 28, and Alana Duncan, 28—cried out for justice. Police from the Southern Division said Duncan and Johnson were charged in 2006 with kidnapping. That matter is currently before the court, it was said. Kerron’s brother, Ricardo Eccles, was inconsolable. He demanded that Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs suspend officers implicated in the killing. Eccles said: “I want to see the faces of those men who killed my brother. I want to see them. I hear they still on work. We not taking that.” He then fainted on the road and had to be carried away. As the officers tried to clear the streets of debris, the villagers jeered at them. “This is the first time all you ‘wuking’ for your money. We not resting until we get justice,” villager Sherwin Mitchell shouted. He claimed many times the people of Moruga could get no aid from the St Mary’s officers because the station was always locked up at nights. Relative Jimmy Mark said they were frustrated because Government officials, including De Couteau, had not met with the family.

Mark said they wanted an immediate meeting with Gibbs. He added: “Moruga is a crime-free area. It is not Laventille or Morvant. The police had no right to come in  Moruga and shoot innocent people.” He said there would be no funeral for the deceased until the officers were suspended. De Couteau said he also was unable to reach to the protesting villagers. He said he sympathised with the family and planned to attend the funeral. Late yesterday, Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs appointed Senior Supt Donald Denoon to investigate the incident. Denoon was chosen because he was not part of the Southern Division. Gibbs, in an earlier interview, promised to have a thorough and fair investigation.


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