Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Residents protesting teen’s death bring chaos to Maxfield Avenue

Published:Wednesday | January 30, 2019 | 12:27 AMCorey Robinson/Staff Reporter
Police clearing a section of Maxfield Avenue yesterday, in the vicinity of Raphael Street, where it is alleged that Ronaldo Smith was killed by police on Sunday. The incident has sparked protests by the residents and has been affecting traffic flow along the busy thoroughfare.

Member of Parliament for St Andrew Southern Mark Golding yesterday urged residents protesting Sunday’s fatal shooting of a 16-year-old in the Maxfield community to do so peacefully and to refrain from blocking the major thoroughfare.

There was gridlock along lower Maxfield Avenue yesterday as residents continued a third day of fiery protests into the shooting death of Ronaldo Smith on Raphael Street in Kingston. They used debris to block sections of the roadway.

There have been conflicting accounts of what transpired on Sunday afternoon. Residents said Smith was killed by cops who barged into a residence and shot him about 1 p.m. on Sunday. The police, however, contend that it was a shoot-out and that they retrieved a revolver from Smith’s person.

“I can’t pass judgement on the case. I wasn’t there. I haven’t heard the police’s account, but the circumstances are very sad. We have a schoolboy killed in a room, apparently in a yard, and he was alone when that happened … . The circumstances are very sad,” Golding told The Gleaner yesterday.

“At this point in time, we have to help to comfort the family of the young man who was killed, and they have to cooperate with the investigation that INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigations) is doing, and be vigilant in following it up,” he added.

“In terms of taking action such as blocking the road, I understand how hurt and frustrated you feel about this kind of thing, but at some point, we have to allow calm to be restored,” Golding added, noting that disrupting traffic would be counterproductive to the fight for justice.

Traffic chief Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen said rush-hour traffic on East Avenue, which flows on to Maxfield Avenue, was delayed for more than an hour because of the protest. He said cops are taking steps to prevent further roadblocks today.

“Naturally, it did affect the flow and would have caused that volume of traffic from the Portmore toll road, especially, which would run off about 8:45, to go until about 9:20 this morning,” said Allen, noting that Maxfield Avenue takes the bulk of motorists from Portmore and Spanish Town in light of roadwork at Portia Simpson Miller Square.

Allen said traffic had to be diverted on to other roadways.

“People will always want to protest different situations, but what we are against is when you impede other persons not involved in that by blocking the road, preventing the children from reaching school on time … . Peaceful protest, yes, but not the blocking of the corridor,” he continued, noting that he has been in dialogue with the St Andrew South police in anticipation of further roadblocks today.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com