T&T merchants association: Young blacks being targeted

(Trinidad Express) The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) on Tuesday expressed concern over what it said appeared to be the profiling of young Afro-Trinidadian males.

DOMA made the statement in a release on the violence in Beetham over the past two days, in which it also warned that the use of heavy weaponry against unarmed Beetham residents—particularly children—could spark an explosion of greater violence.

The association, which is headed by businessman Gregory Aboud, said it does not condone unlawfulness, but questions must arise from repeated claims from North Trinidad’s depressed communities of police brutality.

Beetham residents rose up in protest last Sunday and again on Monday, following the killing by police of resident Christopher Greaves, 23, that afternoon.

Protesters claimed Greaves was unarmed, and he bled to death 30 minutes after being shot while police prevented onlookers from going to his aid.

As the protest grew, some residents blocked traffic and hurled abuse and missiles at the police while armed forces waded in with tear gas, firing into the air to disperse the crowd.

DOMA said news footage of the clashes were viewed “with great concern”.

“While we pledge our full support to the Police Service, we must make it known that in the poor neighbourhoods of the East-West Corridor, the claim of police brutality and injudicious killings have been left unanswered for too long,” DOMA stated.

“Few from civil society have spoken in defence of the young people, exclusively Afro-Trinidadians, who seem constantly the target of the very profiling of which we have recently heard so many complaints in the United States. While we continue to pray for the safety of the men and women in our protective services, we also wish to express the need for our nation to pray for the safety of these young, fellow Afro-Trinidadian citizens who, it seems, are greatly endangered for the way that they dress, the way that they plait their hair and the way that they run when they see the police,” DOMA said.

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