(Trinidad Express) A high police presence is being kept in and around Beetham Gardens this afternoon as law enforcement officers give safe passage out of the city to commuters leaving work and headed east.
Many workers took to social media trying to find out if it was safe to use the Priority Bus Route and Beetham highway, which was the scene of violent clashes between police soldiers, and area residents Sunday night into today. Traffic is said to be moving, but there exists major gridlock on city streets. The Express was told that many taxi drivers chose not to enter the city to pick up passengers, leaving many stranded.
Earlier, police exchanged gunfire with people at Beetham Gardens as a protest sparked by the police killing of a resident on Sunday night, continued to rage.
Members of the media were caught up in the face-off, having to run to a safe area and take cover during the height of the instability.Three National Security Ministry helicopters circled the housing development located east of Port of Spain, as police attempted push back residents and clear the debris from the east bound lane of the Beetham Highway and Priority Bus Route.
The protest appeared to have been quelled this morning with the intervention of Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson, but shortly after noon, there was an escalation, with police and soldiers using tear gas on residents and firing into the air at one point.
Express journalist Rickie Ramdass, was one of several media personnel caught in the gunfire.
He said “We were making our way through one of the alleys in the Beetham, when we heard rapid gunfire, and saw residents running in our direction. The police warned us not to go forward because they were in a battle with the residents. We took heed”.
Ramdass said that police blocked the highway at several point and took up strategic positions before squad cars, aiming their guns into the Beetham Housing Development and firing.
Resident claimed that they never fired on police who were in full riot gear, and that law enforcement were taking a brutal approach against them because the area was considered a crime hot spot.
The sporadic protests throughout the day has caused traffic gridlock out of Port of Spain despite the efforts of police. Residents plan to continue the protest into the night.