The residents in interviews yesterday said that contrary to reports by the police, no weapons were found. They said that some of the persons held were innocent since they were on a “lunch break” from a painting job in the nearby Eastern Boys Government Primary School.
When Newsday visited the school compound, several young men were seen painting the exterior walls. A worker who wished to remain anonymous, said work on some sections of the school was now stalled since some of the arrested workmen have not returned to the job.
A shopkeeper on Nelson Street said that innocent persons were arrested during the raid. She said that one of the persons detained had just came home from work and parked his car outside the building he lives shortly after he was held. Another, she said, was a “sickly” teenager who suffers from an over-active pituitary gland who just happened to be there at the wrong time. She said she is not against what the police are doing but the way in which they are going about their duties. She did point out that during the police exercises, sometimes the “right” persons were arrested.
The residents said although they are in support of the state emergency the police are going about the raids the wrong way.
She said work given to the residents to paint the nearby school had kept them busy and had kept the men from venturing into trouble. She said she would like to see more trade programmes conducted in the area since this would assist the residents in securing jobs. She called for the community centre on George Street to be refurbished which according to her would assist in the development of the area. The residents called for more police patrols and not a mobile unit since they said the mobile unit did not have an impact on crime.
One resident who claimed to be a community activist in the area said the police “were just doing their job” when they arrested 22 men in the lock-down exercise on Tuesday.
He said the Government needs to address the high unemployment rate in the area since most residents don’t have “marketable skills” to enter into the job market. Of the 22 persons arrested, one was released yesterday morning. The residents claimed that this person who was released, is employed with the fire service.