Violence, protests overshadow Mass for slain Haitian leader

A police officer abandons his vehicle during a demonstration that turned violent in which protesters demanded justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise  in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A police officer abandons his vehicle during a demonstration that turned violent in which protesters demanded justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Demonstrations in Cap-Haitien have turned violent as gunshots rang out while supporters of slain President Jovenel Moïse blocked some roads and demanded justice while threatening to disrupt his upcoming funeral

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) — Demonstrations in Cap-Haitien turned violent on Thursday as gunshots rang out while supporters of slain President Jovenel Moïse blocked roads and demanded justice while threatening to disrupt his upcoming funeral.

A heavily armed police convoy carrying unknown officials rushed through a barricade of flaming tires set up at the end of a bridge, with one vehicle nearly flipping over as it passed through.

“This is real messed up since Jovenel died,” said David Daniel, who stood in the doorway of a restaurant he co-owns as he watched the scene unfold. But he said he doesn’t think the unrest will have the effect demonstrators intend. “Violence has been here in Haiti since I was a kid, so I don’t think violence is going to change anything.”

Earlier on Thursday, a priest told mourners at a memorial service Thursday that too much blood is being shed in Haiti as authorities warned of more violence ahead of his funeral.

The Rev. Jean-Gilles Sem spoke to dozens of people wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with Moïse’s picture.

“The killings and kidnappings should stop,” he said, noting that poor communities are the most affected. “We’re tired.”

The Mass at the cathedral in the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien was about half-full and Moïse supporters kept interrupting as they cried out and accused Haiti’s elite of killing the president.

A man who identified himself as John Jovie stood outside the church with a group of men and threatened more violence if wealthy members of the elite from the capital of Port-au-Prince showed up for the ceremonies.

“We ask them not to come to the funeral,” he said. “If they come, we will cut their heads off. We will bring our guns out of hiding. …We want justice for Moïse.”

The mayor of Cap-Haitien arrived at the cathedral with heavy security as men with high-powered weapons stood watch during the entire Mass.

Nearby, some people signed a blue condolences book that the mayor’s office had set up next to the cathedral as well-wishers stood before a portrait of Moïse and rows of candles whose flames flickered in the hot wind.

“My President. Go in peace. God sees everything. Fight for change,” wrote Louis Judlin, a 36-year-old electrician and father of two.

He said he is unemployed and struggles to find food to feed his children. “Life is truly hard for every Haitian. To eat, to go to school, to have health, transportation,” Judlin said.

On Thursday evening, first lady Martine Moïse and her three children attended a small religious ceremony where government officials including newly installed Prime Minister Ariel Henry offered their condolences. It was her first public appearance since arriving in Cap-Haitien. She did not make any public comments.

The Mass was held a day after violence erupted in Quartier-Morin, located between Cap-Haitien and Moïse’s hometown. Associated Press journalists saw the body of a man whom witnesses said was killed during the protests organized by armed men who blocked roads with large rocks and burning tires.

“That’s the only way we have to demand justice,” Aurélien Stanley, a Moïse supporter, said of the violence. “If we don’t get justice for Jovenel, we will do whatever it takes to stop the funeral from happening.”

Before the Mass began, several people stood at the entrance and shouted, “Justice for Moïse! Justice for Moïse!”

A private funeral for Moïse was planned for Friday as authorities continue to investigate the July 7 attack at the president’s home, in which he was shot several times and his wife seriously wounded.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department announced the appointment of Daniel Foote, a career member of the Foreign Service, as its special envoy for Haiti.

Foote will “engage with Haitian and international partners to facilitate long-term peace and stability and support efforts to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

Haiti’s police chief, Léon Charles, said 26 suspects have been arrested so far, including three police officers and 18 former Colombian soldiers. Another seven high-ranking police officials have been detained but not formally arrested as authorities probe why no one in the president’s security detail was injured that night.

A man uses his cellphone inside a concrete pipe at a market in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien is holding events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A man uses his cellphone inside a concrete pipe at a market in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien is holding events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Armed police take cover near a barricade set on fire by protesters demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise stands, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Armed police take cover near a barricade set on fire by protesters demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise stands, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

A man waits to row his boat across the river in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien is holding events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A man waits to row his boat across the river in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien is holding events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Women carry buckets of trash to the shore on the sidelines of a market in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien is holding events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Women carry buckets of trash to the shore on the sidelines of a market in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien is holding events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Vendors wear hats for shade as they sell cooking coal at a market in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien will hold events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Vendors wear hats for shade as they sell cooking coal at a market in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien will hold events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

A woman sits outside her shelter in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021.  The city of Cap-Haitien will hold events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A woman sits outside her shelter in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. The city of Cap-Haitien will hold events to honor slain President Jovenel Moïse on Thursday ahead of Friday’s funeral. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

A man touches a portrait of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse outside the Cathedral where a memorial service for him takes place in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A man touches a portrait of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse outside the Cathedral where a memorial service for him takes place in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

A man yells for justice during a memorial service for assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A man yells for justice during a memorial service for assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

People call for justice as they point to a portrait of the late President Jovenel Moïse during a memorial service for him in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
People call for justice as they point to a portrait of the late President Jovenel Moïse during a memorial service for him in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

The city mayor's security guard stands by during a memorial service for slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
The city mayor's security guard stands by during a memorial service for slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

People attend a memorial service for assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
People attend a memorial service for assassinated President Jovenel Moïse in the Cathedral of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Moïse was killed in his home on July 7. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Protesters demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise stand between burning barricades in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Protesters demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise stand between burning barricades in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Police abandon their vehicle during a demonstration that turned violent in which protesters demanded justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise  in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Police abandon their vehicle during a demonstration that turned violent in which protesters demanded justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

A protester demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise hurls a stone in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A protester demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise hurls a stone in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix

A protester demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise stands near a burning barricade in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
A protester demanding justice for the assassinated President Jovenel Moise stands near a burning barricade in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, July 22, 2021. Demonstrations after a memorial service for Moise turned violent on Thursday afternoon with protesters shooting into the air, throwing rocks and overturning heavy concrete barricades next to the seashore as businesses closed and people took cover. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Credit: Matias Delacroix

Credit: Matias Delacroix