OCHO RIOS, St Ann — The St Ann police say they are not daunted by Monday morning's protest staged by the Ocho Rios Ministers Fraternal, members of the Rastafarian community, and some vendors over last month's closure of Little Dunn's River.
"Be careful of some of the demonstrations you try to push because if criminal elements can feel that they are so empowered that they can cause demonstrations to happen at any time, then all our citizens will suffer right across — not only just Ocho Rios but right across the island," acting head of the St Ann police, Superintendent David Whyte, cautioned on Monday.
The location, which is operated by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), was ordered closed to facilitate investigations into the killing of Roshane Housen who was slain nearby on August 1.
Whyte said a suspect in Housen's killing was pulled from among Monday's protesters.
"We'll continue to give support to the owners of the property so that they can develop that property and to hand it over to reputable persons to operate the property," he said.
The protesters called for the reopening of the venue, saying they are concerned about the impact its closure is having on the community and residents who depend on it to earn a living. There are also fears that the closure is the precursor to the venue being privatised.
"We just deh here and a try fi find out wah the Government really up to. We just nuh want the place fi privatise; we need the place fi always remain as a public beach so we, as the people, can always have some weh fi go fi cool out and relax," said vendor Giovanni Edwards.
Another vendor who identified himself as Bongoville said he has been at the attraction from it opened and it is his only source of income.
"Me nuh have nothing else fi live offa; is here so I live fi years from 2002. Me is a sickly man and a here mi buy mi likkle medication and everything out of; so when it shut dung deh now, come een like me whole life shut off," he said.
On Monday the UDC issued a release noting that the property is not a licensed beach, lacks basic sanitary conveniences, and has no insurance coverage or other requisite permits in place.