Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie said vendors will be compensated after their belongings were destroyed by Municipal police yesterday outside Linstead Market in St. Catherine.
He also apologized to the vendors, and called for the suspension of the officers involved in the demolition.
McKenzie made the declaration after seeing a viral video, which shows a Municipal police destroying a handcart and its contents.
Although only one handcart is shown in the video, the vendors claimed that at least three of them were demolished.
McKenzie said the action seen in the video is disgusting and disrespectful.
This is his full statement:
“It is a disgusting and disrespectful act. I have spoken with Mayor Norman Scott, who is the Chairman of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation, and I am expecting a report on this incident by the end of the day.
I cannot understand the thinking that informs the kind of action that I saw in that video, where people who are trained to ensure public order were instead using weapons of destruction to intimidate and bring down their fellow citizens.
The Municipal Police are there to facilitate and enforce law and order in the Municipality, not to breach the law and undermine their authority in the process.
Let me make it abundantly clear: that action does not, and will never reflect any policy of this Administration towards vending.
The powers to address vending do not include the arbitrary destruction of vendors’ property. These kinds of actions make it harder, rather than easier to earn the respect of our citizens.
As a former Mayor and now the chief servant of Local Government, I will not distance myself from this matter.
I want to offer my personal apologies to the vendors who were treated in this way.
I want to assure them that they will be compensated for any damage to their property.
I also want to use this opportunity to call on all Mayors to ensure that the Municipal Police that fall within their jurisdictions are clearly reminded about the purposes for which they exist, and about the proper use of the powers that they have.
They have been trained to promote and maintain law and order in service to the people of their jurisdictions. This incident totally derogates from that ideal, and it must never, ever happen again.”
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