Los Angeles Times

Haiti police protest gang killings of officers


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Angry police officers paralyzed the Haitian capital Thursday, roaring through the streets on motorcycle­s in protest of a slew of killings of fellow officers by gangs.

More than a hundred protesting officers in Portau-Prince blocked roads, fired guns into the air and broke through gates at the airport and the prime minister’s house, with tensions escalating throughout the day.

Gangs have killed at least 10 officers in the last week, one is missing and another has severe bullet wounds, according to the Haitian National Police.

Video circulatin­g on social media — probably recorded by gangs — shows the naked and bloodied bodies of six men stretched out on the dirt, guns lying on their chests. Another video shows two masked men who are smoking cigarettes from the dismembere­d hands and feet of the dead men.

The gang that killed them, known as Gan Grif, still has the bodies, police said.

The wave of grisly killings of officers is the latest example of escalating violence in the Caribbean nation, which has been gripped by gang wars and political chaos since the 2021 assassinat­ion of President Jovenel Moise.

His unelected successor as head of the government, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, has asked the United Nations to lead a military interventi­on, but no country has been willing to send in soldiers.

The deaths enraged members of Fantom 509, an armed group of current and former police officers that has demanded better conditions for officers in sometimes violent protests.

Dozens of these men wove through the capital Thursday, many wearing hoods along with police uniforms and flak jackets and carrying rifles and automatic weapons. They seized buses to block roads and torched tires across the city.

Many demanded tougher crackdowns on the gangs and called for the end to Henry’s administra­tion, which many Haitians view as illegitima­te. Demonstrat­ors broke down one of the gates outside Henry’s home and a barrier at the Port-au-Prince airport, where he planned to make an appearance.

“We need a revolution,” screamed one protester dressed in a bulletproo­f vest, helmet and gas mask. “We are in the streets to fight, for our brothers and sisters who are victims of the bandits. We have to take to the streets every day to get what we want.”

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