THE St Elizabeth police were up to late yesterday keeping a close watch on sections of Lacovia in the parish following a protest by angry residents over the police killing of three of their own in Westmoreland on Friday.
Tempers flared as well over 100 placard-bearing protesters took to the streets, marching and beating drums and blocking several main roads with tree branches and stones as they claimed the innocence of Andrew Brydson, a fireman, his brother Triston Brydson, 24, and their cousin, 38-year-old chef Kingsley Green. All three were killed by the police during an operation at Petersfield in Westmoreland.
Police alleged that two firearms were recovered during the incident.
But yesterday, residents of Lacovia, where the men resided before they moved to Westmoreland, strongly denied the inference that the three were gunmen and blocked the Lacovia main road as well as roads leading out of Magotty and Holland Bamboo.
Their action brought activities in sections of the busy town to a halt and left scores of commuters, including dozens of schoolchildren, stranded. Some were forced to take long walks to get transportation to their destinations.
A team of police, drawn from various divisions in St Elizabeth, visited the area to quell the tension and clear roadblocks.
An informal meeting with Jamaica Constabulary Force Chaplain Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Welsh did little to soothe the protesters' emotions.
They vowed to continue the protest until justice is served.
"We will not stop until we get justice, until we hear from the Government. A lie the police a tell pon the youth dem. They were law-abiding Christian men and police killed them. Wi nah stop protest until we get some answers," Vashaun Lewis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
"We not going stop until we hear from the top people dem in authority. We want some answers now," demanded Gay Hall, a mother of eight who was among the protesters.
Andre Gordon, a relative of one of the slain men, said the killing has erased the trust he once had in the police.
"As a person who grew up with Andrew (the fireman), I am still in shock that he, a Christian man, was killed and in that fashion," Gordon said.
"Family members of the men are upset, and we believe the protest today is an indication that the entire country is disappointed with the action of the police," added Delroy Nish, another relative, who teaches at Black River High School.
Yesterday, the protesters called on the Independent Commission of Investigation to speed up their probe into the shootings.
The police, meanwhile, said they would continue to maintain a presence in the area.