Residents of Linden are back on the streets on both banks of the Demerara River, erecting blockades across the road and lighting fires.
The action comes on day two of a five-day protest against power tariff hikes and after three protesters were killed last evening by the police.
Hardest hit by the blockades today is the Winifred Gaskin Highway at three strategic locations at the One Mile Junction, Livan Corner at One Mile and Big Red Corner. Presently there is a heavy police and army presence in the area as the Linden fire-fighters are attempting to put out the blazes.
Residents are crying shame on the police special squad who shot and killed three residents yesterday and injured more than twenty, ten of whom have been admitted to the Linden Hospital Complex. According to a hospital source two are in serious condition.
Residents are outraged at the statement by the police as reported in several of the daily newspapers today that they were attacked by angry protestors resulting in them spraying tear gas and shooting into the crowd.
“That’s a plain and outright lie from the pit of hell”, one resident said.
Some residents said that at the time they were lining the street from the hospital junction. “If they had ten persons on the road there they had a lot”, cried one woman. They explained that earlier in the day the ranks were made to retreat after they attempted to convince people to clear the Wismar-Mackenzie bridge. “The people were coming forward to them with absolutely no violence just crying and begging them not to shoot cause we peaceful. They back down and went away.” explained an angry resident.
When the squad returned later that afternoon, they spanned the road from the Hospital junction and holding up a banner, turned to residents who were lining the side of the road. They then sprayed tear gas. “They turned directly to us on the side and shoot tear gas at us. I had to duck a woman who was coming from the hospital with a sick baby in a car to save her”, recollected a man.
A security guard who was in the compound of the Linmine Secretariat said that he was shocked when he noticed the squad directly shooting tear gas into the compound. “Somebody had an agenda cause I can’t figure out till dis day how and why they would directly turn to us and shoot tear gas at us.”
“To say that we pelt obstacles at them and cause them to shoot is a nasty, blatant lie”, exclaimed a man.
Several of the protestors who were at the bridge today held up newspapers crying “… they killed our children.” The angry group said that at the time of the shooting most of them were on the bridge playing music, engaged in loud prayer and singing.
“The next thing we know is this smoke tek over deh bridge and people falling down like sand, jus sah you know!” said one woman whose view was echoed by several. others.
Asked if they heard the squad appealing to them, “Not a sound, not a sound we heard absolutely nothing but just hear shooting and tear gas”, said one.
“My sixty-odd year-old mother was on the bridge and deh shoot she in she back my God how could this be right”, cried a woman. Another woman who was bound for an interior location said that she took a decision to remain in Linden and join the protest because she felt an injustice was done.
“We came out of a bus at one end and were walking over to the other side to catch another bus to go our way and about ten of us was tear gas”, said the woman, adding that because they were walking as a group the squad shot tear gas directly at them. “The tin hit my friend and buss she face up. How can that be fair we weren’t part of this. We were just going our peaceful way.”
Several others who were not part of the protest had similar claims. Among the ten admitted is a hospital staffer Alishaw, 34 years of Half Mile Wismar. The woman said that during the course of the day several persons fainted and had to be rushed to the LHC, “so we (hospital staff) were making rounds back and forth to the bridge in case of an emergency when I ended up getting shoot two times.” The woman said that at the time that she was shot in both thighs, she was assisting a group of children off the bridge who were affected by the tear gas. “They see me fighting to helping those children and they literally shoot at me.”
“I am telling you I wasn’t hit by pellets, it’s bullets and the doctors confirmed that”.
Currently the ranks are constantly patrolling the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge ensuring that the path is kept clear. However vehicles attempting to proceed to interior locations are being prevented from doing so because of the large fires and other blockades along the main and bypass roads.
As ranks clear some of the blockades residents have been re-erecting them making it challenging for the roadway to stay open for any length of time.
Several leaders and concerned residents have been appealing to protestors not to lose track of the objective and to be alert that they don’t do things that will hurt the community or themselves.