The displaced vendors demonstrate in Kingstown on Friday morning. (iWN photo)

Police, on Thursday night, destroyed the fixtures used by vendors outside Ace Hardware on Melville Street and in a section of Middle Street, Kingstown two days after a man was shot in a brazen daylight attack in the city.

On Friday, members of the Rapid Response Unit, a tactical squad, made intermittent checks in the area, to prevent vendors from returning to ply their trade there.

The audacious shooting around 9 a.m. Tuesday has left Rockies man Lionel “Gobler” George in intensive care, with a gunshot injury to the head.

It was the second shooting in that vicinity this year.

The first shooting, around 8 p.m. on Sept. 9, left Tevin Williams, 22, also of Rockies, dead on the spot with a gunshot wound to the face.

Williams was hanging out with friends under the Melville Street gallery of Ace Hardware when he was shot and killed.

Commissioner of Police, Colin John, told iWitness News that vending under the gallery is illegal and the police decided to act, having allowed the situation to prevail for some time.

“The police, in consultation with business owners and the Kingstown Town Board embarked on an operation to clean up that area and the area through Middle Street,” John told iWitness News on Sunday.

He said that the public had been complaining about feeling intimidated when they would pass those areas.

“And we also have observed criminal activity taking place in these areas, hence the reason for doing that.”

The police chief told iWitness News that his officers did not give the vendors any notice of their intention to remove them from that area.

“As far as we know, they were there illegally… We should have done it before, we should have nipped it in the bud, but better late than never. It’s been allowed to fester and we really decided to take a stand now and deal with it.”

Asked if the cleaning up was linked to the two shootings in the area, John said:

“Those activities would have created a stir and it would have helped to hasten or help to give us more reason to deal with the situation.”

John said there will be police presence in the area to deter people from continuing to vend there.

Meanwhile the vendors complained to iWitness News on Friday, saying that barring them from plying their trade is disruptive to their lives.

One vendor, who gave his name as Top Dawg, told iWitness News he has been selling “hot dog, etc.” under the gallery for the past five years.

The Kingstown resident said he was sleeping Thursday night when he got a phone call saying that the police were “mashing up me thing them.

“I don’t know what them do but ah come and ah ain’t meet me thing them. Them mash up me business place, them tear ‘part me whole life. This is me life. The business is me life.”

Police destroyed and removed from the site the furniture that the vendors used in the conduct of their business.

Top Dawg said he has more children than any of the officers who took part in the operation.

“Ah get four children. Ah get more than them. Them ain’t get no children. Them ain’t care bout nutten.

“Martial law, them say. Them say them get more guns than we and if we wah the war, bring it out. But me doh  know, me doh know. Me never see a gun yet. Cadets alone. Independence just done,” he said.

The vendor told iWitness News that the police did not give them a deadline by which to move.

“Them just mash up everything, throw it in the jeep, say them badder  than we, them is the more gangsta than we. We sell hot dog, we ain’t know nothing them talking ‘bout. Them dey pon them own scene.”

Police officers on duty under Ace gallery Friday afternoon. (iWN photo)

Tamara De Grads, one of the vendors, said she had been selling under the gallery for 10 years.

“This is where I send my children to school.  I practically raised my children from here.”

De Grads said that she received a phone call on Friday morning saying, “everything is gone from under Ace now”.

She commented:

“Nobody notified us that they would be doing this. What am I supposed to do now? Who am I supposed to go to to get something for my kids? How am I supposed to send my kids to school? This is what I do.”

De Grads said that her children’s father has kidney disease.

How is he supposed to pay for his treatment when am I am on the street, not doing anything. This is what I know: the streets. Here is where I make my living so who do I go to? Who do I turn to? What’s next?”

Another vendor, who gave his name as Shankie said it was “an oppressing situation”.

“Them say well we in the hotspot… Just because a little shooting they say here is the hotspot. A man dead here so that is not our friend; he doh lime (hang out) here. He doh associate with me. They say he was liming with friends when he got shot.  Them is the kind of reasons them say why they’re closing down the place; them ain’t want no vending.”

Sankie said he sold fruits and vegetables under the Ace gallery there for about five years.

He is also a carpenter but vending is his main source of income “because no wuk ain’t even dey in the place for man get wuk”.

24 replies on “Shooting triggers removal of Ace gallery vendors (+video)”

  1. I agree with the police to get rid of all the vendors in that area. That place is really intimidating even for pedestrians when passing though you just don’t know what might happen next. And I believe that is one of the areas crime is cooked and who knows what else. Let them find other areas of doing their business that is the only way.

    1. Transference of the problem!!…have a flee market street/ location with space allocation related to fees. A little regulation hoes s long way in this case. By their own admission, vending is a viable business and they should make their contribution to the tax system…We ALL benefit from this social democracy

  2. It is very stupid of the authorities to blame these vendors for the two shootings. Most all of us hate vending but we should NOT hate the vendors. Unfortunately the government perpetuates a system that makes poverty inevitable and makes prosperity nearly impossible and that is the main contributing factor why we have such high crime and that “Street Vendor” is the largest industry in the country. That means it employs more people than any other industry. What is second? Maybe agricultural worker and third may be house burglar. If two of the top three industries that employ the most people are street vendor and house burglar than the government should realize they are doing something wrong.
    I have been saying for years we need to .adopt more elements of Supply-Side Economics instead of Keynesian Socialism. The USA used to be very much Supply-Side (better known as: “The American Dream”) but now the USA is a terrible hybrid of of various systems. Singapore is about the most Supply-Side country in the world and that is primarily why they are the wealthiest nation on Earth with the best Universities, Hospitals, Banks, etc… The lowest corruption and on and on…Singapore has virtually NO NATURAL RESOURCES, they even have to import thier drinking water. Saint Vincent has GOOD resources but ask yourself why we are in such a terrible state. The answer is easy: We are not doing the right things to foster prosperity and instead we foster poverty.

    In order to get the masses of vendors off the streets we have to make some other financial opportunity more appealing to them. Obviously the government with the ASTRONOMICAL TAXES THAT EFFECT BUSINESS, PARTICULARLY CUSTOMS DUTIES, insures that the environment for business and investment is terrible and if there is investment it is never that profitable and often fails. When it is so much cheaper to import than to produce here we ourselves will not be able to export and if we want to have any income at all, we are confined to “stay small” and rely only on the consumption for the local environment and never try to export because we can never compete. The government may know these things but maybe it is just not a high priority to them; but hey…We have a temporary seat on the Security Council!

  3. I dont think removing them makes any difference to the crimes that took place in that area. When they are moved they are gonna be in a area where others would be plying their trade, would that mean that the criminals would follow, Nah, I don’t think so. If it’s illegal to be where those guys are like Top Dogg Hot Dog Stand is, then move them. But don’t destroy their stuff. TheyvThey’ve worked hard to put together their resources to ply their trade and are hard working individuals that may not have anything to do with the crimes that happened there recently. How about having a police pressencd patrolling the streets at all times, maybe this would deter crimes from being taken place. I hope that’s the move after they have removed the vendors from where they are now. The next question is where would they go?

  4. Public policy must be executed with thoughtfulness and acknowledgement of people’s reality. With the very high unemployment rate self employment is paramount. I am not advocating for chaos but if crime is the situation why not just post police patrols in the area where the vendors trade? To just destroy people’s livelihoods is to bait them into criminal activity for survival. I suspect the police are just pawns in this situation.

  5. Clive Bish-I Bishop says:

    The destruction of the POOR is their POVERTY . People of African ancestry in SVG, own very little property or real estate in Kingstown . Since physical enslavement to present mental enslavement , we have been kept in generational poverty by the system of divide and rule through religion and politics which have replaced our indigenous culture of ONENESS and TOGETHERNESS ,
    We cannot escape from this darkness unless we ORGANISE AND CENTRALISE . We must start to THINK and ACT differently . We must EMPOWER OURSELVES and pool our resources together . Failing to do this we will be forever squatting on the sidewalks , the roadsides and under the galleries of the wealthy in Kingstown .
    It’s time for all Vincentians to wake up and wise up from their sleep and slumber .

  6. “The police, in consultation with business owners and the Kingstown Town Board embarked on an operation to clean up that area and the area through Middle Street,” Hmmm…Think people!

  7. “The police, in consultation with business owners and the Kingstown Town Board embarked on an operation to clean up that area and the area through Middle Street,” Hmmm..

  8. The Market was built to house and accommodate such Traders but through the slackness, irresponsibility and the carelessness of both Government and the Town Board, the Market is now grossly not fit for purpose.

    It lacks proper hygiene, stinks of Urine, and has poor Lighting. It even lacks Refrigeration facilities for the Vendors who sells perishable goods.

    Yet to compound all this gross irresponsibility, the Town Board collects a daily rent from these illegal street Traders. What a shocking state of affairs and what abandoned neglect! This is love as we have never known it!

  9. I understand both sides ………If you want to be respected you must first give respect . The police should at a minimum give three day notice to remove any personal property and time to relocated so they can continue to provide for their families . Everyone are not criminals and you cant treat all the same .
    The police have a duty to serve and protect citizens from reckless and outlaw individuals that have no concerns for human life and decency. That said police must approach sensitive situations more respectable and reasonable especially when you depend on the cooperation of the public and community policing to solve crime . Having good relationship with ALL citizens not just one class of citizens , is essential to creating that trust.

    The Gov need to create new strategy to , build and designate new vendors stalls , art galleries , craft shops , fruits and vegetable market and meat market .
    They need to do this in an orderly and professional manner so that when sellers advertising to the public and tourist , their items will be better presented and buyers feel more safe .
    there need BETTER ORGANIZATION .

  10. Isn’t that why the “Mall”…that ugly monstrosity of concrete in the middle of Kingstown was built? For vendors to sell their wares… They took away those beautiful little shops and the little piece of green that we had..that made our little town a beaut. Poor planning I may say…..( ah hope y’all ain’t tryna blame the party in power or dat one) .We do need do to find a good spot though, for all the hard working citizens who has been displaced from their “illegal spots”….and furthermore RESPECT and CONSIDERATION should have been given to those honest citizens so they would’ve time to come up with a solution. I’m sure that MANY of them if not All are voters.

  11. What these protesting Vendors and some of the commentators appears to have forgotten is this, that “Street Trading and Hawking” are totally illegal in the state. In the circumstance, should the Town Board encourage or permit acts here that are grossly and thoroughly illegal?

    Further, I have always argued, that the Kingstown Town Board should be an elected body. They should be elected to their chair. In this way, they could be held more directly accountable to the electorate, rather than just be appointed.

    There are indeed many reforms that are needed here in the country, once our democracy is reinstated and an elected Town Council, headed by a Mayor, and an elected Town Board for Kingstown, should be two of them.

    See here, from the photograph produced in the article, how much cleaner and better the underpass there looks, rather than the usual ugly, unsightly clutter of plywood-stands and the host of horrid peddlers, vending outside the town’s shopfronts. They impede the walkways thereby making life most difficult for both shop owners and shoppers.

    Is it not about time we get some Law and Order back in the Town, rather than the lawless, dirty, ramshackle slum-like ghetto, that Kingstown is today to our nation’s shame.

  12. Hashtag Prince says:

    ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL NO MATTER THE EXCUSES!!!

    Caribbean societies are becoming too lawless.

    People feel nowadays that because they have a seemingly justified excuse that it
    makes their disrespect for law and order legitimate.

    The first cry use to be “the poor black man”, now it is, “we got families to support.”
    So why not do the right thing from the beginning – get a licence and sell in the place allotted for your business.

    I believe that the footpaths and galleries should have clear access to passers-by.

    You cant start wrong and end right – If you start wrong you will end wrong!
    HOWEVER
    I feel the vendors should have been served a NOTICE TO VACATE.

  13. What on earth are you on about AL? What, when you write “James im shocked …….BOTH governments ??? . I didnt know those words were in your vocabulary lol ………” Please do elucidate as I am sure flummoxed!

    1. Rambunctious!!! You hit AL Good James. I am sure he is still in the Websters dictionary! (LOL!!!)

      I think AL misunderstood your writing. I think he misread this to imply that you were referring to the present and former Administration of governance. (ULP/NDP).

      You said, “…both Government AND the Town Board…” meaning the town board and the government.

      I hope this brings clarity on the assumptive disruption on the foreplay of AL’s mind. (smile)!!!

  14. Can someone or the police explain to me why is there one individual still vending opposite Ace and under Stangro Supermarket, the Chinese store and The Faith Covenant Ministries Church. He seems to cause a crowd to gang up and come back there in the night. And they use all kinds of bad words and block church folks from parking. When other honest vendors were moved.

  15. Dear John! Yes man, dis yah ah one ah dem Dear Jann request parr yoh.

    Mann yo ha fo go find out ah wah kind ah shirt an hat im ah wear, carse dat ah go meck ah whole bit ah difference dread!

    Wha, yo naa know dat? Ah how lang yo live ah dis town yah?

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