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Willing to die for ‘Dudus’


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Willing to die for ‘Dudus’

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KINGSTON – Christopher “Dudus” Coke’s influence on West Kingston was put on show yesterday as hundreds of mostly women from Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town poured  into the streets to show support for the man wanted by the United States, and to vent their anger at a police claim that Tivoli Gardens residents were being held hostage by thugs.In what appeared  to be a highly organised but peaceful protest,  the demonstrators, the majority dressed in white, told the authorities to “leave ‘Dudus’ alone” with some boldly declaring that they were prepared  to die for him.“No hostage, no  hostage, we are free;  is lie them telling,”  shouted the women.“We are not being held hostage in our community and no one not taking away our phones,” said one woman, in reference to a police report Wednesday that thugs were also seizing residents’ cellphones.Under the steely gaze  of a large contingent of police, the demonstrators gathered outside the Denham Town Police Station on Spanish Town Road, waving placards with their messages of support for Coke, whom the United States government has accused of trafficking in guns and drugs.The Americans had submitted an extradition request for Coke last August, but the Jamaica government had refused to sign it, arguing that the evidence presented by Washington was gathered in breach of Jamaican law.The stalemate damaged relations between both countries which is just now being rebuilt after Prime Minister Bruce Golding – under increasing pressure to resign – announced in a national broadcast on Monday night that his attorney general would sign the request giving the authority for the warrant to be processed.But before Golding’s broadcast, word of the government’s decision started circulating on the streets, triggering panic  in Kingston, the Jamaican capital; and in Spanish Town, the old capital, which is plagued  by intermittent bouts  of gang violence.On Tuesday, residents  of Tivoli Gardens, a community that is fiercely loyal to the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, and which serves as Coke’s power base, started mounting blockades at all its entrances, using old motor vehicles, old refrigerators, large tyres, vendors’ stalls and other heavy debris.By Wednesday, the barricades were fortified with more debris, including propane gas cylinders and barbed wires which the police said were attached to Jamaica Public Service high voltage power lines.The intention, the authorities said, was  to keep the security forces out of the community, which has been the scene of deadly gunbattles between gunmen and law enforcers in the past and which, ironically, is in Golding’s constituency.On Thursday, the police, who now have an arrest warrant for Coke, said they had received information that thugs in the community were stocking up on petrol. The cops also said that their surveillance had shown that among the massive arsenal in Tivoli was the powerful 50 calibre Grizzly Big Boar rifle. “Its powerful .50 calibre BMG round blows its targets to pieces while its careful design absorbs most of the recoil,’ the website on the gun said.Yesterday, the police said they intended to exhaust all peaceful means to arrest Coke and had already written to the attorneys who were  named as being on his defence team.Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, in a message to members  of the constabulary, expressed “gratitude and satisfaction with the professional and dignified way” in which they had responded to the Coke extradition issue.He added that the  main effort at executing the arrest warrant  would be directed  from the high command.   (Jamaica Observer)

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