MP: Morvant protests organised by residents, not gangs

Protesters face of with police during protests in East Port  of Spain last week. - Jeff Mayers
Protesters face of with police during protests in East Port of Spain last week. - Jeff Mayers

FORMER Laventille East/Morvant MP Adrian Leonce said protests last week were organised by angry residents and not by gangs.

He was speaking with Newsday about protests in East Port of Spain sparked by police killing three men in Morvant on June 27. Both National Security Minister Stuart Young and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said the protests were organised by gangs with the latter adding that it was part of a plot to destabilise the country.

Leonce, however, said the protests were not organised by gangs but by members of the community. He pointed out that the composition of the protest was mainly women and children and the protests began in his community in Morvant.

"The people who came out were not gang members. They were relatives and friends of the people who were shot and killed."

He said the residents would have witnessed and seen video footage of the incident and the protests were an emotional response.

"People were angered, persons were grieving. It was a cry and a call out for justice at what residents had seen and perceived as an injustice."

He said the constituency is a "passionate community" and sometimes when negative things happen their reaction is one of passion.

Leonce also pointed out that during the protest other communities were seeing what happened and decided to join in protest and there was one day of violence. He stressed that the public generally supports protest but neither he nor the public supports violence and wilful destruction of property.

He said the police reported there was violence, three people were shot and live rounds were used on both sides.

"In my view that was not the essence of the protest. It was an unfortunate and very sad day in my view in TT."

He said the relatives, family and friends of the people who died and sparked the initiation of protests not want not have wanted the violence and people dying, including a pregnant woman (Ornella Greaves) being shot and killed.

"No one can see that as something good."

He also commented on a reported robbery of a Chee Mooke Bakery van during the protests. He said residents said that the driver left the vehicle and a few of the people removed bread but community members made them return it.

Leonce reported that he visited the relatives of the three men killed in Morvant – Joel Jacobs, Israel Clinton and Noel Diamond – though he did not attend the funerals. He recalled that after the funeral two of the families communicated with him and said they appreciated that he did whatever little he could.

Leonce said he would not encourage protests as this would not help in terms of productivity but peaceful protests for a just cause is done throughout the world.

"Sometimes these result in a different behaviour that shapes the future. There was a time certain people could not work in banks. Now in our great, beautiful country, regardless of creed or colour we all now able to enjoy the ability to work in the banks."

Asked what he had done as MP to improve lives in his constituency Leonce said one of the things he is very proud about is being able to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs and guiding them in terms of business. He reported that a number of young people registered companies within his five year tenure and he guided them in terms of registering different state agencies and different organisations "so the opportunities can be real."

"If that alone be magnified and continued growing we will end up with a community that is not only self-sustainable but with constant economic growth. And it would help address a lot of the social issues."

He said the community is one passionate with unity, positivity and positive growth and he recalled during covid19 businessmen who had now started to work and established work assisted with food and hamper distributions.

"It is a real family."


"MP: Morvant protests organised by residents, not gangs"

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