In this May 24, 2019 photo, Barbecue, whose real name is Jimmy Cherizier, is carried by a resident in his neighborhood in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He’s a former policeman, a suspect in the massacre of dozens of men, women and children and a hero in his neighborhood, followed by crowds of adoring residents who consider him their protector. (Dieu Nalio Chery / AP)

A rifle strapped around his neck, Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, walked with a throng of people marching in Port-au-Prince last month to denounce kidnappings. With a rara band providing music as a backdrop, the demonstrators — including several children — sang with Chérizier, who this year began calling the gang he leads Fòs Revolisyonè G9, which translates to Force Revolutionary G9. 

“G9 pa nan kidnapping,” they chanted, meaning the group is not involved in kidnapping. Journalists scrambled through the crowd to record Chérizier on their phones. Boys in the crowd gazed upon, with the vacuum of Haitian government left wide open, he proclaimed himself a man of the people.

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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.