HAITI: Police shoot pro-Aristide marchers

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Special Forces units of the Haitian National Police, acting as part of a larger U.S. Marine “peacekeeping” force, killed at least nine Fanmi Lavalas demonstrators here May 18, as U.S. troops stood by and watched. The Lavalas movement is associated with ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

In one episode, about 6,000 Lavalas demonstrators tried to converge with other marchers near the Champ De Mars for a larger demonstration. The march had been planned well in advance and organizers had written approval from the police to hold it.

As the marchers approached Champ de Mars, a Haitian Special Forces (SWAT) unit appeared out of nowhere and began shooting into the crowd. One demonstrator, Titus Simpton, 23, was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. Simpton was unarmed. The only item in his possession was a portable CD player.

While it is hard to estimate the actual size of the demonstration, figures of 30,000 to 60,000 demonstrators marching in various parts of the city seem credible. Even though witnesses said the demonstrators were angry, there were no reports of rock-throwing or other violent acts that would have provoked the shooting.

Eyewitnesses said the U.S. Marines seemed to be coordinating the carnage, and stood by with heavy artillery in case the population tried to stop the killers.

Later reports indicate that the U.S. Marines began further reprisals against Lavalas supporters once darkness descended on Port-au-Prince.

– Haiti Information Project