Gulf residents deny being aggressors in Gregory Park war

RESIDENTS of a section of troubled Gregory Park in St Catherine have hit out against claims that they are responsible for the recent violence that has hit the community.

It comes after allegations began swirling that men and women from Gulf were responsible for the recent killing of one man and the firebombing of 11 houses in a tenement yard on Walker's Avenue.

Raneel Haughton, 28, was killed while more than 40 people, including over 20 children, were displaced by the firebombing which destroyed their houses in the early morning two Saturdays ago.

In the aftermath of the incident, some of the residents of Walker's Avenue who had their houses set on fire claimed that they recognised some of the men who stormed the premises and torched the yard. According to them, the perpetrators were from Gulf.

But during a recent visit to Gulf the Jamaica Observer was bombarded with complaints, from mostly female residents, who said their section of the community gets blamed for everything negative that happens in Gregory Park. They also claimed that people from Walker's Avenue and other places in Portmore, St Catherine, make it a habit to attack Gulf residents.

They added that when they decide to stand up for themselves they are accused of troublemaking and being aggressors.

What makes the Gulf residents even more upset is that they feel the recent firebombing is being used as a political tool. Following the firebombing, Prime Minister Andrew Holness joined Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson and Member of Parliament for St Catherine East Central Alando Terrelonge on a tour of the affected space on Walker's Avenue. The PM did promise the burned-out residents on Walker's Avenue that their houses would be rebuilt under the Government's social housing programme.

However, the residents of Gulf complained that Holness left the community without visiting with the people of Gulf, which made them feel left out and that the PM is picking sides.

"How Andrew Holness fi come and go one place? Dat nuh right. If two place a war you supposed to go figure out what is going on in the two places," one woman reasoned.

Another woman described Gulf residents as "hotheads" but quickly refuted claims that they provoke others.

"Andrew Holness should a come visit the two sides; you are the prime minister. There are two parts to a story. They are always giving us a fight. We always say peace and one heart a love. We love keep dance and those things, so we first not going to start nothing. The girls from Walker's Avenue love the man dem from Gulf — that is why they start plot up for when dance a keep, to kill di man dem. Some a di people from down there who are talking on the television have gunman son. Man from that side usually want to rape. We have to stand up and put down we foot. We a hot head unuh and we nuh tek chat, but we nuh give trouble," the woman claimed.

Another resident was adamant that the people of Gulf were not the terrorists that others are making them out to be.

"Everybody a team up fi kill us off down here. Oh God man, how we fi war [fight back against] so much place? Gulf residents are not the terrorists. You know what is the problem? When we react, we react terribly. The boy who start the war give pure trouble, den him run left him people dem. A him cause dem house fi burn down. A pure man a lock gun inna yard a night time," the resident said.

"In everything, dem tell lie pon Gulf. Why would we call peace and then at the same time be looking war? We feel the MP doesn't like us. Before the peace call dem never see when the whole a Clarke's Lane and Mexico man dem a come shoot up dung yah? Di man dem down here nah hold we and rape we. Weh day, man from Walker's Avenue come in the middle of the Gulf, burn down shop, fire a lot of shots and shoot the little old man — and nobody talks about that," the resident added.

Following the firebombing, police imposed a 48-hour curfew in Gregory Park. On the Monday when the curfew was to be lifted some residents of Walker's Avenue begged Holness to declare enhanced security measures to set the community straight.

After the curfew was lifted, raids were conducted by the security forces during which two guns were seized on Walker's Avenue and in Gulf while close to 20 people, including persons of interest in the firebombing, were taken into custody.

BY JASON CROSS Staff reporter

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