Jun 10, 2021 Letters
I want to bring to your attention an incident that took place on June 6, 2021 at approximately 7:40am in the village of Agricola on the East Bank of Demerara. This is not easy for me to pen this letter because it speaks to an age old problem that exists in Guyana that is often swept under the rug, which no government has attempted to address over the years. The problem referred to here is a lack of safety and security for the citizens of Guyana, which is a direct result of the Guyana Police Force’s inability to respond to calls for help in a timely state. The manner in which the incident referred to here went down, and I am sure many more incidents, begs the question as to who the Guyana Police Force are called to serve and protect.
On June 6, 2021, at approximately 7:40am Pastor Atwell and his family, along with another church member arrived at the Rome Methodist Church early to prepare for Sunday service. As pastor Atwell was setting up the hand wash sink at the church entrance, in accordance with the standard COVID protocols, he noticed a man, later identified as Kwesi Alves of 71 Remus St., Agricola, approach the church waving a cutlass chanting, “yah s***** gon dead today a fed up a yah”. With quick action of those present, they managed to close the doors and windows preventing the man from entering; however, he managed to cut Pastor Atwell across his eyebrows and nose with the cutlass.
Immediately, a call was placed to the police for assistance from the Police Outpost which is within three minutes walking distance. The response, which they were met with, was that the patrol would be there shortly. Fifteen minutes passed and yet there was no response from the patrol. A few more calls were made to the outpost, which resulted to a response, “I told you the patrol will be there, what else do you want me to do?”
While they waited for police to arrive, the assailant continued to walk back and forth lashing the doors and walls of the chapel and pushing the cutlass through the door crease terrorising the family seeking refuge in the church. Pastor Atwell’s wife pleaded with the assailant and kept inquiring why her husband’s life was being demanded. The man related, “I have to kill Atwell because he allowed someone to be buried in front of my mother and he has to take responsibility with his life. If I don’t kill him now, I will kill him soon”. It must be noted here, that this individual’s mother was buried some 21 years ago and the pastor had nothing to do with his accusations.
The Pastor who made countless calls trying to get help, reached out to a former councillor of the community who showed up within minutes and tried to render some assistance by speaking to the man. It took approximately 30 minutes for the police patrol to arrive in the area and arrested the perpetrator who was out on the road. They left without even approaching the church to conduct a wellness check on the family seeking refuge from this machete-wielding man. Not knowing what to do, the family stayed in the church and continued to redirect church-goers to their homes because of the volatility of the situation.
According the Pastor, he called the Police Outpost to find out what was happening and was then informed that the man was in their custody and he was to report to the Police Outpost to provide a statement. What was surprising and worrying to me was when I heard this man was released from custody on the same day of the incident.
Editor, this situation was unfortunate for Pastor Atwell who by the way is an outstanding citizen and a sports ambassador for Guyana but more so the fate of the average Guyanese citizen who chose not to take matters into their own hands and seek the right course of action by calling the police for protection. I ask this question over and over again…Didn’t the police take an oath to serve and protect?
Had Kwesi succeeded what would the police say? Had any of them within the chapel defended themselves and killed this man, what would have been the response of the LAW, which they so waited upon?
I ask Editor, what is the system doing to protect the citizens of Guyana?
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