Rowdy march shouts for peace

2015-06-02 06:00
About fifty residents braved the cold on Saturday to voice their disapproval of gang tensions in Woodlands. Blaring sirens helped get the word out.

Samantha Lee

About fifty residents braved the cold on Saturday to voice their disapproval of gang tensions in Woodlands. Blaring sirens helped get the word out. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Blaring sirens in the back and a loud hailer in the front . . . And so the residents marched forward to bring peace and unity to the streets of Woodlands.

Following an increase in gang tensions and violence in the area, the Community Police Forum subforum for Lentegeur sector 4 arranged a march to stand up against the recent spike in gang-related murders.

On Saturday a group of residents picked up banners, posters and flags to march through the streets.

Sector 4 chairperson Kaamilah Ismail said she was disappointed that fewer people participated than she anticipated.

“The march has been in planning for the past two months and we were expecting a good turn out despite the bad weather. It was well organised and we are disappointed but we are positive,” she said.

The march was supported by fire and rescue services, metro ambulance services, local police and the CPF. Project coordinator Anthea van der Vent said on Saturday it was important to get all roleplayers’ participation in the march.

“The role of the ambulance and fire and rescue services here today is to educate residents. Many times the residents call on the wrong people when they are in need. For example, when a woman is giving birth they call the police instead of the ambulance,” she said.

Ricardo Carrolissen, a firefighter linked to the Ottery fire and life safety education section, agreed.

“We have come here to show our support but also educate residents on our role as the fire department. Following the scourge of fires in the community we need to educate people about fire safety. We are involved with more than just fires. We respond to accidents and crime scenes and we are a support service to the police. We work hand in hand with other emergency services,” he said.

Various schools also participated in the march.

The march was led by the drill team of the Mitchell’s Plain Skills School. It started in Iris Street and followed streets throught the flats in Woodlands.

The organisers wanted to make as much impact as possible during the 30-minute march. Residents came out of their houses clad in gowns and slippers, wanting to know what was going on as the sirens rang in the empty streets.

One resident who wishes to be known only as Michael says he was still in bed when he came out to see what was happening.

“I thought maybe it was another shooting and came to see what was going on. The next thing I saw was all the blue and red lights,” he said.

He added that the sign of force was just what the community needed and he welcomed the idea.

The march ended at the Woodlands sports field where a family day was held to further promote peace and unity among the Woodlands residents. The event was organised by the subforum to follow the march, which also acted as an announcement to those who could not be informed before the fun day.

See more on page 11.


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