“The system is failing the youths of Laventille.”
This was the cry from one woman yesterday, as she warned that residents are fed up with being targeted by the police and advocated for greater opportunities and a wider acceptance of residents who live in Laventille.
Her call came hours after the death of local entertainer Jaheim Joseph, who was killed during a police-involved shooting on Saturday night.
Joseph, 19, of Mango Alley, Laventille, was reportedly shot by officers of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) around 7 pm.
An up and coming artiste with several local hits such as Long Live B Man, War, KRR and Nah Play, Joseph, who is a former Queen’s Royal College graduate, went by the moniker Chucky Blanco in the entertainment industry.
Angry residents yesterday burned debris and blocked the roadway in the community as they protested the killing of someone they said was an ambitious young man and a mentor for many in the area.
IATF officers claimed they were conducting operations at Mango Alley on Saturday when they came across a group of men liming in a track. It is alleged that one of the men pointed a gun at the officers, who opened fire on him, which was in keeping with the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) Use of Force Policy.
After the group scattered, Joseph was found with several gunshots about the body.
The officers chased after the other men and stormed a nearby house where a child’s birthday party was in progress with their guns drawn, frightening children and adults alike.
Although Joseph was later taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Officers reportedly recovered two firearms at the scene.
However, this claim was yesterday rubbished by angry men and women in the community.
One man, who requested anonymity, said, “Chucky never had a criminal record, he was not known to the police. He was one of the good ones.”
Insisting this was a police killing that will not be left unavenged, another man warned, “Police want to pick up fire rage for people…”
Claiming there was a tension now in the area, a third person said, “This is murder.”
An elderly woman also vented her frustration as she cried, “The system is failing our youths, especially those from Laventille. He was a local artiste who was now coming up in society and our system is killing them. This is real unfair. These children are growing up in a society where they are going to rebel.”
In a 2019 Youtube post, Joseph shared his dream of becoming the biggest dancehall artiste to emerge from T&T. He wrote: “On August 23, 2019, I made a decision to become the biggest dancehall artiste out of Trinidad and Tobago. I made a beat and recorded a song using only a laptop and a Samsung headset as my microphone. The track was released the following day and became an instant hit.”
A follower of the Islamic faith up to the time of his death, Joseph’s brother, who refused to state his name, said, “He was a real intelligent young man, he was a leader for younger boys in the neighbourhood and it is a big loss to everyone.”
Insisting that a lot of people did not truly know the extent of Joseph’s ambition and education, the grieving man went on, “He was not known to the police. He was a driven young man and if you see him outside, it is because he out looking for work and moving to advance his music career.”
Questioned about reports that he had pulled a gun on officers, Joseph’s brother denied this, saying, “He was an inside person and if he was outside in the view of eyes, it would have been because of the younger ones who he was always talking with them, teaching them to ride bike or play football.”
Joseph’s girlfriend, who also declined to be named, referred to the sudden death as, “shocking and unexpected because he just wasn’t about that life.”
Holding back tears, she added, “It hurts to get a call home when you in your bed sleeping that your boyfriend’s passed away.”
Noting that Joseph had begun singing for fun, she said she had always been supportive of his dreams to start a business, build his own home and she smiled as she said, “He always wanted ten children.”