48 persons detained, Bushmaster rifle seized as police clean up downtown

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Some 48 persons have been detained and a Bushmaster rifle seized in the downtown market district and West Kingston area following a flare up of violence and a police operation which saw several stalls being destroyed and over 300 illegal connections dismantled.

The police operation to clean up downtown by demolishing vending stall illegally placed in the area, was put into effect at 1:00 am Thursday morning, the same time a curfew blanketed nearby Denham and Hannah Town.

By 4:00 am when the Heywood Street stall owners started emerging, it was clear that it would be an ugly day.

They reacted when they saw that what was once their livelihood had been reduced to rubble. Vendors complained of losses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars said they were not “illegal” as they had paid their fees of $2,500 to register and $500 weekly for market fees. Many said they were not informed of the planned clean-up. However, the police say notices had been sent out.

Amidst a strong police presence, vendors who sell on West Queen and Princess Streets decided to march to the offices of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), but the cops would have none of it. In between strong words of condemnation for Prime Minister Bruce Golding (Bruce ginnal we”) and Mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie, they then decided that the storeowners should not be allowed to open their shops either. The displaced vendors started banging on shutters shouting “no vendors, no store”. The police again intervened.
The Constabulary Communication Network says the police estimated that about 10 tonnes of debris and other material were cleared from the streets. Jamaica Public Service Company work crews also disconnected 330 illegal connections.

Meanwhile, the vendors, who have been demanding to know where they will be placed, are to meet with Mayor Desmond McKenzie at noon today at the offices of the KSAC.

McKenzie is reported as saying that he was not a part of the early planning of the clean-up operation.

The curfew remains in effect unti Saturday morning. The boundaries of the curfew are:
NORTH along Asquith Street on to Studley Park Road between East and Slipe Pen roads
SOUTH along Barry Street from Darling Street to Church Street
EAST along Slipe Pen Road on to North Street to Church Street continue to Barry Street
WEST along Darling Street on to Spanish Town Road continue on to Little King Street to East Road.