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Woman claims she was assaulted by Town Board officer

Woman claims she was assaulted by Town Board officer

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by Jason Browne

A woman who sells fruit on the streets of Kingstown is seeking justice in a matter in which she alleges she was beaten and discriminated against by an employee of the Kingstown Town Board.

Lisa Joseph, a vendor hailing from the Queen’s Drive area, alleges that on Monday, May 11, {{more}}she suffered facial fractures, loss of a tooth and other cuts about her body at the hands of the government employee.

According to Joseph, that morning, between 10:30 and 11 a.m., as she was setting up her table in her usual area in the vicinity of Q-Care pharmacy on Halifax Street, two employees of the Town Board approached her.

The vendor said one of the men said to her, “You know…”

To which she replied, “Know what?” and continued to set up her table.

She claims that the men then told her that she could no longer do her business there, and attempted to move her table.

According to Joseph, a tug-of-war of sorts ensued, following which the encounter turned violent. The vendor states it is then that the worker struck her in the face.

“Once I pull the table from he and said that I am selling and for him to leave me alone, that’s when I… received a box to my face.”

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, the visibly shaken young woman recalled that the force of the box propelled her on to a vehicle that was parked nearby.

Joseph said she picked herself up, approached her alleged assailant and sought to defend herself, but denies hitting him.

She said she was then struck again, and this time fell to the ground between two vehicles.

By this time, a crowd had gathered, including a police officer, who intervened and escorted Joseph and the Town Board employee to Central Police Station, with Joseph continuing on to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital for treatment.

She was treated for cuts and scrapes to her arms and elbows, fractures on her face, and a loosened tooth, which she had to remove on May 14.

She expressed to SEARCHLIGHT an inability to eat properly and a heightened state of emotional distress, as she constantly replays the incident in her head.

“It brings tears to my eyes, because you don’t expect this to happen when you going out, trying to make an honest living, and that’s what I feel I do. This gentleman, he is just provoking to me….”

Vendor claims Town Board policy is “unfair”

Joseph is one of many vendors in Kingstown who fall under the jurisdiction of the Town Board, which seeks to regulate the presence of street vendors in and around Kingstown. According to employees of the Town Board and Joseph herself, some of the vendors who began selling on the street after 2012 have been told to cease operations.

Those who are allowed to vend are charged a daily fee of $5, which is collected by Town Board employees, including the man who is alleged to have been involved in the incident. They also have the authority to ask persons who maintain a presence on the street, without proper authorization, to leave.

Joseph, however, questions the “fairness” of the Town Board’s policy.

“In the past, Town Board has approached me and stated that I am not allowed underneath the gallery…. I used to sell a little further down, in front of Home Zone… and once they made me aware that I wasn’t to sell under the gallery, I took some time off…. I noticed new vendors would appear and they would not be asked to move…. I cannot afford to not make a living…. I moved my food stall up a little ways and proceeded to sell.”

When reached for comment, the alleged assailant, who has been employed with the Town Board for over 30 years, described Joseph as “troublesome.”

He alleges that after being told on numerous occasions that she could no longer vend on the street, police assisted with the removal of her stall after she failed to pay her fees.

It is unclear why fees were being sought from Joseph if she was prohibited from selling.

The Town Board employee also described the woman as “disrespectful.”

He claims that on May 11, the morning of the incident, Joseph instigated matters by pushing her hand in his face and “chucking” him in his chest. He admits to striking her, but only in self-defence.

Eyewitnesses recall a violent encounter which was loud, with the Town Board worker standing aggressively before the vendor. They further claim Joseph passed out both times she was struck.

Of the two witnesses that spoke with SEARCHLIGHT, none could state who initiated the incident. However, one remembers hearing the man exclaim “Don’t push me.”

Another, who identified himself as “Andre,” recalled coming to the woman’s assistance after she was struck down the second time.

“…. Man, he hit her hard, eh…. and she just fall right back like a log (and) hit her head on the ground…. That was it; she was out, knock out.”

He also recalls the Town Board worker responding to requests that he stop with: “You ain’t see wha’ she do?”

When reached concerning the matter, warden of the Kingstown Board Carl Williams declined to comment.

Up to press time on Wednesday, no charges had been laid. Police say investigations are ongoing.

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