Police warn marauding Agricola mobs: No more restraint!
The Guyana Police Force has warned that while its ranks have been showing considerable restraint, the Force cannot and will not allow persons who appear to be using the pretext of protesting to cause mayhem and confusion in the society.
The Force was responding to complaints about the many criminal acts perpetrated by bands of youths in the Agricola/McDoom area, on hapless commuters under the guise of protest actions against unlawful killings by the members of the Force.
Amidst tremendous public pressure and failing further alienation, the Police Force has recently adopted a less forceful way of dealing with unruly protestors. This position has resulted in criminal elements capitalizing and making life difficult for commuters along East Bank Demerara corridor, particularly at Agricola, where spontaneous unrest has erupted.
The Force said that it has so far demonstrated a high level of restraint in dealing with protestors at Agricola on the East Bank of Demerara, but issued a subtle warning that this position will not go on forever.
“These people are getting bolder and we cannot remain like cowards forever,” a senior police officer told this newspaper, adding that the Guyana Police Force is the primary Law Enforcement agency responsible for public safety, the maintenance of Law and Order and the protection of life and property, and remains resolute in carrying out its mandate.
Last week Thursday, a large number of persons who claimed to be protesting following the death of Shaquille Grant, who was fatally shot during a police operation on September 11, 2012, in Agricola, blocked both carriageways of the East Bank of Demerara roadway, with the use of burning tyres and other debris and obstacles.
This action brought traffic to a standstill, leaving thousands of commuters, including the elderly and school children, stranded for over five hours.
In addition, criminal elements seized the opportunity presented and proceeded to rob and beat persons who had sought alternative routes through the village.
The unruly protestors, some of whom were armed with cutlasses and pieces of wood, continually threw incendiary devices, bricks, bottles and other missiles at the police ranks who were engaged in maintaining law and order, resulting in many of them being hit.
One rank, Corporal Kwesi Lawrence of the Tactical Services Unit, sustained burns to both thighs and an injury to his left eye.
The police were forced to resort to the use of rubber bullets and tear smoke to eventually bring the situation under control and allow traffic to flow.
Again, during Monday afternoon, persons attempted to block the East Bank of Demerara thoroughfare with fiery obstacles, but this was prevented by alert police ranks who quickly removed them from the roadway.
Police ranks were again besieged with bricks, bottles and other objects being thrown at them and also endured taunts, verbal abuse and derogatory remarks.
Some of the missiles being thrown by the protestors damaged motor vehicles on the way through the community.
The Guyana Police Force said that it respects the rights of all citizens to protest peacefully on issues of concern to them, and the Force has no objection to persons conducting peaceful protests.
“However when protests degenerate into a series of unlawful acts infringing on the rights of other citizens and putting the protection of life and the safeguarding of property at risk, the Police Force will as a consequence have to take the appropriate action in response,” the force warned.
This newspaper was reliably informed that arrangements are in place to secure the East Bank Demerara carriageways at Agricola and its environs.
“We are maintaining both static and mobile patrols in the vicinity,” the senior police official assured.