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Cops have sections of Kgn, St Catherine under close watch

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 14, 2014    

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THE police last night said sections of St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew will today remain under close observation for any possible developments after yesterday's guilty verdict of entertainer Vybz Kartel and three co-accused in the Home Circuit court.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Winchoy Budhoo, who heads the Mobile Reserve, gave the assurance as he led a team of police assigned to maintain order on downtown Kingston's busy streets yesterday.

Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, was charged jointly with fellow entertainer Shawn Campbell, also called Shawn Storm; Kahira Jones, Shane Williams and Andre St John for the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams.

Of the four accused, only Williams was found not guilty.

Hours before the verdict, activities in sections of the commercial hub came to a virtual standstill as large crowds of Kartel supporters gathered on streets near the court shouting, "Free world boss", one of Kartel's monikers.

Police increased their presence in the area as the crowd threatened to grow unruly and on two occasions appeared ready to throw debris at the cops.

Although this was quickly brought under control by police teams who used barriers to block off several streets, one bottle was hurled from the crowd, hitting a woman cop in her head.

Her colleagues picked a man out from the crowd and started beating him with batons. He was, however, rescued by other cops who led him away to a police vehicle.

Riot police armed with helmets and shields were also placed at strategic locations to prevent disturbances.

Mounted troops were also used to maintain crowd control, while several large armoured vehicles were brought in to boost police presence.

But the crowds and police action left several business operators fuming.

"Activities at the store have been brought to a standstill because of what is happening," said the manger of Khemlani Mart, the store located across the street from the court.

Officials at neighbouring stores shared similar experiences.

Members of the public who were going about their business had mixed reactions.

"Because of the development I made the decision to park my vehicle and take a bus to downtown as I was afraid that I would not be able to move around because of the roadblocks," said George Gordon as he walked along Church Street.

"This is slackness. Because of one man I am being inconvenienced," said one woman who left the court fuming.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said her son had a case in the court but she was turned away by police.

Elaine Hall expressed a different view.

"The road closures have not affected business so far and I understand that what is happening is part of procedure," said Hall.

Meanwhile, at least one vendor sought to capitalise on the occasion.

"Vybz Kartel water! Vybz Kartel juice!" the vendor was heard shouting.

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