Absence of communication leads to heightened tension in Linden
By Gary Eleazar
Lindeners streamed onto the roadways from the break of dawn and this continued throughout the day, as day four of the protest action which has already claimed three lives continued.
In what has now become an evident massive show of support and solidarity, men women and children were out in their numbers. The roads were again thoroughly blocked preventing vehicular traffic while the people awaited word from their leaders.
At times the mining town took on the appearance of a devastated war zone with embers smoldering in patches along the roadways.
Police kept clearing the roadway only to see it blocked five minutes later.
In the absence of official leaders and directives an apparent instinct seem to be the driving force and throughout the town many persons, particularly the young, could be heard discussing various strategies, intent on this being a last stand for the ‘depressed community’
“This is wha does happen when poor people fed up…This is wrong wha dem doing to we here in Linden…Is wha more dem wan do we?”
In what can be described as an impressive show of solidarity across the mining town, makeshift ‘firesides’ have been established where large pots of aromatic cook-up-rice and chowmein were being prepared.
Rice, meat, coconut and all of the required ingredients to prepare the meals were donated by the Lindeners with the help of the business community, including the grocery stores.
This publication witnessed a few meals being prepared for scores as the town geared up for day four of the protest.
This scene has been repeated day and night and this publication understands that this has been the case from the first day.
The Government and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) agreed to establish a Commission of Inquiry into Wednesday’s fatal shooting at the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge.
There has been a plethora of arguments for and against the protest, but what exactly triggered the violence remains a mystery.
This publication has learnt that what caused the Lindeners to camp out on the bridge in the first place was a single police rank’s verbal hostility that led to a physical confrontation.
This publication has been told by several persons who claim to be in the locale at the time, that while the people were assembling, there was a free flow across the bridge.
According to reports, some time after 10:00hrs a young man was attempting to cross the bridge and had a piece of wood “like a walking stick” in his hand.
A police rank then challenged the young man, “Wheh you going?” He reportedly chucked the young man who immediately retaliated with a “straight right.”
A woman reportedly then intervened, telling the rank “You can’t do that to he.” Word of the confrontation spread.
“We camping..Stay right here; is we bridge,” was the reaction as word spread. “I ain’t know wheh the tarpaulin come from but tent start put up, and we decided to camp out,” said one of the Lindeners.
It was at this point in time that persons decided that the bridge has to be blocked and some old “Diahatsu” vehicle shells that were kept in the GuyMine Secretariat compound were taken and used to block the bridge.
Music was next and stereo sets appeared and started to set the tone for what was supposed to be a cultural activity in the evening as the Lindeners decided that the protest action would be prolonged.
Reggae music particularly Bob Marley’s “Stand up for your Rights” was blasting in some corners while in others, some of the older persons indulged in folk songs and the meals were being prepared.
It was at this point that officialdom made its presence known. Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon along with Vanessa Kissoon and others began to make speeches addressing the gathering at the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge area.
By this time the police rank along with his squad that triggered the fracas had retreated to the perimeter of the gathering and as Sharma was about to wrap up his presentation a truck load of police ranks from Georgetown turned up.
The ranks immediately took formation in a linear pattern across the road just over 100 feet from the crowd.
“The President said that you must disperse,” was the report from persons in the area who said that these were the words of the rank using a loudhailer “and with that tear gas start shooting.”
The split second reaction from the crowd was to hurl bottles at the police ranks shooting the canisters of tear gas and it was at this point in time that the police opened fire killing the three men and injuring dozens.