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Trinidad: Police commissioner, community leader in peace talks after fatal shootings

By Mark Bassant

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Cedric “Burkie” Burke (Nicole Drayton photo)

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — “I think the Mus­lim who is re­al Mus­lim in this coun­try not at war, and who is re­al Rasta­far­i­an is not at war. This is a bunch of clowns with guns.”

That was the re­sponse of com­mu­ni­ty leader Cedric “Burkie” Burke to the sup­posed on­go­ing gang war be­tween the Mus­lim and Ras­ta City gangs yes­ter­day, in the wake of the dri­ve-by shoot­ing that took place along Pi­o­neer Dri­ve, Sea Lots, on Sun­day night that left two dead and six oth­ers in­jured. The at­tack was be­lieved to have been a hit on Burke.

Speak­ing frankly to Guardian Me­dia in Sea Lots yes­ter­day, Burke said the time for mourn­ing was lim­it­ed and the com­mu­ni­ty need­ed to pick up the pieces. He con­demned the vi­o­lent act that snuffed out the lives of his friends Rawlye Williams, 37 and ca­lyp­son­ian Patrick “Re­veal­er” Lewis, who were killed af­ter men from a ve­hi­cle opened fire on a group of men play­ing a game of pok­er.

“It is an il­lit­er­ate, un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion. A bunch of cow­ards to at­tack a bunch of nor­mal peo­ple just sit­ting down lim­ing to be at­tacked for no rea­son. Every­body in Trinidad and To­ba­go faces the il­lit­er­a­cy and every­body run and say gang-re­lat­ed and says it is Mus­lim and Ras­ta,” an up­set Burke said.

Three days af­ter the shoot­ing, with fu­ner­al arrange­ments still be­ing fi­nalised, an un­easy calm has re­turned to the streets of Sea Lots.

Burke, how­ev­er, dis­missed ru­mours that the at­tack was a di­rect mes­sage to him and said it had not fazed him.

“It takes much more than that for me to be afraid. I was in my house and it had an earth­quake, the hard­est earth­quake I feel and no­body could con­trol that. So if you have to be afraid, you have to be afraid it will have an earth­quake or a storm or you get in an ac­ci­dent. So I don’t live afraid, so things like that will nev­er get me to be afraid.”

Guardian Me­dia was in­formed that Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith vis­it­ed Burke in the area on Tues­day night and urged him to keep the peace. Burke yes­ter­day con­firmed he spoke to the Com­mis­sion­er.

“We had a brief con­ver­sa­tion and he gave us a form of com­fort by let­ting us know he un­der­stands it wasn’t our fault and we were not the one who at­tacked. He gave us the as­sur­ance that the po­lice pres­ence in the com­mu­ni­ty was not meant to be in­tim­i­dat­ing or ha­rass­ing us, but for our pro­tec­tion and for when we were hav­ing the wake,” Burke said.

“Af­ter talk­ing to him we know he is fac­ing chal­lenges. He was sim­ple and sound­ed gen­uine. He didn’t add salt to our wounds.”

Al­so con­tact­ed yes­ter­day, Grif­fith con­firmed that he had spo­ken to Burke and an­oth­er com­mu­ni­ty leader in the Port-of-Spain area on the same night and cau­tioned both to keep the peace.

This article was posted in its entirety as received by This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers.

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