City Council suspends clearing of vendors
-following Hadfield St shooting incident

Stabroek News

July 19, 2003

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Mayor Hamilton Green has ordered an immediate suspension of the dismantling of vendors’ stalls in areas outside of Water Street, following the shooting of a man by a city constable on Hadfield Street on Monday night.

Green, who recently returned from an overseas visit, told reporters yesterday that he was deeply disturbed about the incident, saying that he felt the city workers were over-zealous. Green contended that any exercise outside of Water Street must be treated with caution and that the vendors must first be given adequate notice to remove before any exercise was carried out.

Green told the media that the owner of MFK Trading on Hadfield had told him recently on a television programme that he had no problem with vendors selling in front of his business place.

“I believe if those who were responsible for the exercise had taken note of that statement they would not have gone there and removed those people.”

Green said that even though he was in agreement with the constabulary in clearing the streets, he was concerned as to how they conducted themselves and the repercussions.

Eyewitnesses had told this newspaper that Ronald Todd was a passer-by walking north along High Street when he was shot in the right side of his jaw. The constables were clearing the area from stalls behind the St Stanislaus College when vendors started to protest.

A bottle was thrown in the direction of the constables resulting in the officer, who had his weapon in his hand, discharging several rounds in the general direction of the crowd at which time Todd was shot.

Asked what were the general rules of engagement for city constables, Deputy Mayor Robert Williams said that once the officers were being attacked they could use their firearm. Asked whether the throwing of a bottle was enough reason for the constable to discharge a round, Williams conceded that he was not in authority to say that. According to him, any incident involving the use of firearm by a city constable was subject to a police inquiry and this incident was one such matter. He told the media that the weapon was now in the hands of the police. He said the council had in the past interdicted and charged persons for unlawful use of firearms. However, he noted that the constables were subjected to abuse and taunts from the vendors.

In other developments, Green said the council was working on a relief package for vendors. This would include the provision of a marketplace already identified. This would soon be developed and made available to the vendors. Green said the council had embarked upon a programme to restore Georgetown to its former healthy state. He reminded that the parapets, pavements, waterways, reserves and thoroughfares were not private property, but municipal facilities which were there to secure the integrity of Georgetown and the growth of the municipality. Green also observed that there were too many minibus parks located in one area and that the Georgetown Development Plan would deal with that issue.

Ever since the Council began enforcing the Court of Appeal order for Water Street vendors to clear the street by 6 pm everyday, many vendors have been moved.

Water Street has been cleared of most of the permanent structures erected by vendors and the city’s operations have expanded to other streets.

Asked to comment on allegations that some constables were in the habit of stealing the vendors’ goods, Green said people were living in a fragile social fabric and that the law enforcers had stolen from him before.

He said there was too much bureaucracy in the system and that if he had had his way much more would have been done for the city.