Mar 13, 2009 Letters
About a month ago a few strangers entered the Vryman’s Erven Secondary School in New Amsterdam where I work.
A habit which has been occurring constantly at the named school for quite some time, the strangers (teenage boys) seek cover around, inside and behind the school’s laboratories during and after the lunch-break session which begins at 11:15am and ends at 12:15pm. Last school year, a stranger attacked a female colleague of mine and got away. That matter currently seems to be forgotten by the police and even the courts.
One of the strangers (a former student of the school and whose name I supplied to the police) verbally abused me and attempted to physically assault me on the school grounds near to the labs a few weeks ago.
He picked up a piece of wood to hit me after I questioned his presence in the compound. He was not alone, as there were approximately six others in the compound. I telephoned for the ‘B’ Division police at the Central Police Station. They never came.
As was the case that day, I had my video camera with me and recorded the entire incident with the stranger.
The following morning, I turned up at the Central Police Station in New Amsterdam to give a formal report.
After relating the entire incident to the officer taking the report, along with the fact that I had solid evidence to prove what I was saying, the officer told me to wait for the next time these strangers come.
He then proceeded to tell me to call the station and ask for one Sergeant Coward.
That week passed. The following Monday, the same guy who had verbally abused and attempted to physically attack me returned to my place of work, and I did not feel safe as he was making visual signs of threats to me and others.
I remembered the words spoken to me at the Central Police Station a few days before and telephoned for Seargent Coward, only to be told that he wasn’t there — which wasn’t surprising at all.
I then related the urgency of the situation to the person who answered my call at the enquiries desk.
They promised to send someone. Not taking their word for it, I dialled 911. I related that the boys were once again in the school compound — including the same one who had verbally attacked me. The boys left. No one from the station came.
The following weekend, hoping that this matter would have been resolved by then, but was not, I was interviewed by Prime News in New Amsterdam.
I related the information to the newscast, and this was aired the following Monday evening in Georgetown and Tuesday afternoon in Berbice.
The airing of the story in Georgetown sent shock waves that ripped through the policing fraternity, both in the city and in New Amsterdam.
A newspaper columnist was even moved to base the day’s column on the issue the TV news item was focusing on — the strangers who make their way into my workplace’s compound to just make trouble.
The very next day, a team of police officers came to my school enquiring about the incident. All of them had their note-pads, writing down every word I spoke and all the information I gave them.
They asked to see the video evidence, but I hadn’t my camera with me at the moment. I vouched to bring the camera to school the following day when they said they would have returned.
They never came back. A few days later, one of them returned to see the video evidence, but again I did not bring my camera.
I related to him that I have been bringing the camera to school for the past couple of days and they have not been turning up as they had promised.
This cat and mouse game with them and my video camera continued.
Up to this point, they have not returned to see the evidence I have on tape of what transpired that day on the school grounds.
The same boy continues to be seen up to this day on the streets of New Amsterdam, sometimes right near the Vryman’s Erven Secondary School.
The matter, I presume, has been forgotten and filed away just like the numerous cases within the force — a most ineffective, corrupt, inefficient, incompetent, and useless organisation. At least, that’s how I see it.
If you’re not ‘somebody’ known by another ‘somebody’, you can’t get anywhere in this country. That is indeed a sad but true and depressing reality every Guyanese at some time or another has to face in his or her life.
I am an ordinary school-teacher, one who has just started off in this most noble profession, and I am disappointed at the response I got from the police. I could’ve been hit and injured that day. My colleague was hit and her matter is now in limbo or something of the like.
The Kaieteur News columnist urged the police to nip these young criminals in the bud before they wreak havoc on our society in days to come. I am sorry to say that I do not have faith in the police.
If I called a 911 number that day requesting urgent help as those boys were in the school building, walking the corridors and making visual threats to me, and they did not respond, then where are we going?
For the taxes I along with thousands of other teachers pay towards the salaries of the police, we deserve better.
It makes me sick to hear millions are being spent in the Home Affairs Ministry each year on this and that for the police, but where do I as a citizen, or my brother or sister on the street, come in within these millions of dollars, is a mystery to me.
When people speak out, they are victimised, as I spoke out on the poor service at the New Amsterdam Health facility last year, and was sent a lawyer’s letter by the CEO. I had to recant my words or face the court.
That is how this government is protecting itself from being exposed.
Just last Wednesday, I had to go to hell and back just to get a CID officer to come to the school to investigate a stolen cell phone. I had to call as high up to the Commander (who was away) to get a CID to visit the school.
I then called the second in command, who I believe sent a CID officer later that day, only because I told him I am Mr. Suseran who can be very embarrassing in the print media in these columns.
Weeks after this pathetic incident, I am still waiting for decisive action by the police to capture and prosecute these recalcitrant boys and for justice for my colleague who got injured last year.
They probably let this matter ‘die’ out because they thought I would not have followed it up by speaking out like this.
Leon Jameson Suseran
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