PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Protesters smashed the windows of
passing cars and set up flaming barricades in Haiti's capital Wednesday,
blaming police for the killing of a political activist.
Businesses closed as protesters set fire to street merchants' stalls in
Port-au-Prince. In the downtown business district, bystanders scattered in
panic as gunmen in a pickup truck fired into the air.
A wave of crime and allegations of police brutality have swept over Haiti
politicians struggle to restore the government after a 22-month political
impasse. President Rene Preval has tried to resolve the deadlock this year
by dissolving Parliament and appointing a new premier by decree.
"The increase in crime is part of the weakening social fabric, which is
to the long political crisis," said U.N. civilian mission chief Colin Granderson.
The latest violence was provoked by the killing of Michelange Philistin,
who was shot in the head Tuesday following a fight with a street merchant.
Philistin was a member of Youth and People's Power, a grass-roots ally of
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Demonstrators said a police officer on a motorcycle killed him. Police
At State University Hospital, where Philistin's body was carried, his friends
hurled a barrage of bottles at police officers, injuring one. Riot police
dispersed the mob.
Anger toward the police has grown in Port-au-Prince since April 9, when
residents in suburban Fontmara claimed officers killed two innocent youths
to avenge a riot police officer killed during a shootout with gang members.
"The allegations in the neighborhood that crowd-control police were
involved are extremely strong," Granderson said. He urged an inquiry into
the youths' deaths.
Since the United States invaded to topple a military regime in 1994, the
United Nations has been trying to train a corruption-free police force to
bring order to the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press