Haitian National Police
By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) --Haiti's riot police fired teargas on Tuesday to disperse anti-government demonstrators who threw stones at police officers and destroyed windows and windshields of passing-by vehicles in the downtown area of the Caribbean country's capital, Port-au-Prince.
The protesters, who were calling for the departure of the Haitian leader Michel Martelly and the resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, marched through different streets in the capital before getting violent as they approached the Champ de Mars area leading to the presidential palace, not far from a law school.
"The police were trying to block us, so we have a right to defend ourselves," an angry demonstrator who identified himself as Mario told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN), as he took refuge near the capital's law school.
"They (the police) have weapons, but we don't have. Our weapons are our stones," said Mario.
Several car owners, whose vehicles were attacked, condemned the attitude of protesters, mostly from former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party and other opposition groups.
"I need to know now who is going to give me back my windshield," said Merus Maurice, who happened to be in the area when protesters decided to throw rounds of stones at riot police who fired teargas and shots in the air.
The police also used water cannon to control protesters. Witnesses said at least three people passed out after inhaling teargas fired by the police.
Efforts to have a reaction from police authorities did not succeed on Tuesday afternoon.
The protest was the second organized in Port-au-Prince in less than a week. Several other street demonstrations turned violent over the past months, causing one of the organizers, Rony Timothé, to be arrested last month. He was provisionally released while vandalism charges are being further investigated.