Pubdate: Mon, 24 May 2010
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2010 The Gleaner Company Limited


Much of downtown Kingston, the nation's capital city, was locked
airtight for most of the day yesterday, denying motorists access to
the island's central business district.

Men from Tivoli Gardens in west Kingston, a Jamaica Labour Party
stronghold, sealed all entrances to that section of the city by
blocking roads with debris and sandbags.

For most of the day, sporadic gunfire shattering the serenity of the
nearby May Pen Cemetery could be heard as heavily armed men controlled
the barricades and maintained vigilance atop high-rise buildings. They
were prepared to do battle as news spread that the security forces
were planning to storm the community and extract Christopher 'Dudus'
Coke, their don.

Tivoli Gardens is controlled by Coke, for whom a warrant of arrest was
issued last week, and who is wanted in the United States to answer
drug and gunrunning charges.

On Spanish Town Road in the vicinity of Collie Smith Drive, a group of
boys played football in the drizzle, unmindful of the brewing tension
and the gunshots. Just a stone's throw away, the entrance to Tivoli
Gardens was heavily fortified.

Young men gathered in small groups, smoking and exchanging views on
guns, dons and politics in nervous tones.

"If anybody go in, a dead meat. Di man dem serious," one youngster

Older men sat on the sidewalk, discussing nothing in particular. "We
and Garden man have our war, but if them need safe passage through
Rema, we haffi allow them," said one resident of Rema.

barrage of shots

Scantily clad women and children made their way from wholesale shops
with purchases for Sunday meals, while a few lingered for small talk.

There was no police presence in the area. However, in the heart of the
city, at the intersection of Heywood and Orange streets, heavily armed
police responded to a barrage of shots. The smell of gunfire wafted
through the air, as churchgoers hurried home.

A mother clutched the hand of a little girl who started to cry at the
deafening explosions. Her guardian clutched her tighter and said,
"Hush, don't cry, pray," as they hurried towards West Parade to board
a bus.

In the tightly knit Fletcher's Land community, which shares political
and other allegiances with Tivoli Gardens, gunshots pierced the Sunday
afternoon lull. Women, men and children spilled out into the lanes,
most with a look of worry. Gunmen had just shot up the police station,
leaving one civilian injured.

Over at the station, policemen and women kept guard. One showed us
fresh pock marks on the window and wall of the station. "We are here
as reinforcement," one officer told The Gleaner. 
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