An elderly vendor who was seen in a video, posted online, being arrested by a policeman for illegal vending, is still shaken up about the incident, which happened more than a month ago.
The video titled ‘Old Lady Arrested for Selling Ackee in Jamaica’ received thousands of views on YouTube and numerous comments of outrage on various social networking sites about the policeman’s treatment of the woman.
The vendor, Valrie McLean, who lives in Old Harbour, said she was not selling at the time.
“I wasn’t selling that day, because I wasn’t feeling well,” McLean, who has been selling for 15 years told THE STAR at the Glendon Court plaza in the town, where the incident took place. “I had a fever, I got up from where I was sitting and went to lean on this cart (pointing to a cart belong to a watermelon vendor), while I was leaning there a lady asked me to watch her box with ackee til’ she come back. I saw him (the officer) and started to walk away; then he grabbed me by the back of my shirt and I tripped and hit my side on the pavement and that’s when he hold on to me.”
She said she walked away when she saw the policeman, because two weeks prior, he had confiscated her goods.
McLean, who was released in the video, was later arrested on six charges including resisting arrest, vending without a license and food handlers’ permit, she is on $30,000 bail and returns to the Old Harbour Court on October 11.
A visibly distraught McLean said vending is her only source of income and that she would leave the streets if she had an alternative.
“I don’t have any other source of income, if I don’t sell anything a same way suh me and mi kids haffi go a we bed. If I can get any help or work I will take it and leave, every time I see them (the police) I get nervous.”
McLean said she is appreciative of the response she has received from people since the release of the video.
“People come and sympathise with me and I appreciate it but since that incident nothing going on for me, because ah it me fraid, I not selling as much since the video,” she said.
Vendors were displeased with the police’s handling of the elderly vendor. They said the policeman who held on to McLean, has been a bane to their livelihood as he harasses them daily.
“Him always walk and trouble we and treat us like we are nobody! All tek we tings and mash dem up!” a vendor said.
Another vendor expressed, “I was very angry! The market that they want us to go and sell in it nuh good! No covering nuh dung deh and market closes at 5 p.m., we stand more chance getting buyers on the road than in there!”