JENSEN LA VENDE
POLICE officers attached to the Port of Spain Division yesterday armed themselves with white paint and brushes and re-painted lamp post in Gonzales which were said to be painted to reflect a gang affiliation.
Speaking with Newsday, head of the division Snr Supt Floris Hodge-Griffith said she sanctioned the aesthetics to send a clear message to the Rasta City gang that they are “not taking over.” Hodge-Griffith said following the murder of Kevon “Fish” Joseph on June 4, affiliates of the Rasta City Gang moved in and declared that the Gonzales area was now under their control. Joseph, police said at the time of his death was the last known “boss” of the Muslim gang in the Gonzales area and his death signalled that the area was now to be “colonised” by the Rasta Gang. Hodge-Griffith said residents were fearful as strange gunmen were patrolling the area and painting the lamp posts to reflect that the Rasta City gang was in control of the area. She said if that were to be allowed then her officers would have to pack up and leave and allow the gangs to take over the Belmont Police Station, which has control of the area. She added that as long as she was in charge of the division, she was not allowing any gang to take over. “My officers were upset about having to go out and paint, some of them, but we have to look at the bigger picture. The residents can’t do it because they will get killed so we have to do it. We will continue to paint it over and we are looking to see if it is illegal for anyone to paint the lamp post. The painters will most likely have guns so if we ketch them painting the lamp post we will get guns too. We can’t give them any space to run at all.”
A 45-second video on social media showed police officers with paint and brushes in Gonzales repainting the lamp posts. The video was recorded by a police officer in a marked police vehicle. An officer is heard saying “We not having that Rasta City colours. Police still run this city, it have no red, yellow and green madness, is only white and blue.”
Social media users have commended and criticised the police for their efforts. Some were in agreement for the stance while others scoffed saying that the officers will have to stand by every lamp post to ensure that they will not be re-painted by the gangsters.