Residents looking at smoke of tires burning rise and a car stuck on the side of the bridge on Rue 5 in Cap-Haitien.

The colorful, postcard-like images of Cap-Haitien that flooded social media pages this week in anticipation of Jovenel Moïse’s state funeral abruptly switched Thursday to a sight more commonly seen in Port-au-Prince. Smoke and flames shooting out of burning tires. Heavily armed police officers aiming rifles at demonstrators. Vehicles turned over on the side of the road.

Along with the violence images came the news that demonstrators attacked Claude Joseph, who just stepped down as interim Prime Minister, and police chief Léon Charles when they arrived in town. According to media outlet Haiti Infos Pro, Weiburt Arthus, Haiti’s Ambassador to Canada, and reporters were also assaulted. The men’s conditions were unknown as of late Thursday.

About 670 miles north, in Florida, several natives of Cap-Haitien watched the scenes unfold with disappointment. They lamented that their hometown, poised to host a stately affair that could shine a positive light on Haiti, had instead turned to chaos the day before the president’s funeral.  

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.