Sep 23, 2021 Letters
It was heartening to receive a report that the Police Commander for the Essequibo Region had brokered an agreement between the residents of Dartmouth and the family of Orin Boston, who was shot and killed by a member of the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) Unit in his Dartmouth home, in the presence of his wife.
The identity of the Police rank who allegedly shot and killed Boston has not been revealed by the Police and perhaps this is a good thing.
The accord is praiseworthy as a majority of decent Guyanese yearn for peace not conflict.
However, Editor, having expressed the above sentiments, it is necessary to comment on two relevant aspects of this unfortunate incident, which claimed the life of a young citizen, in his twenties.
First, to focus on what appears to be an attitude of barbarity by certain sections of the Police Force.
Earlier, I referred to the unacceptable behaviour by sections of the GPF. This is unfortunate because everywhere sometimes we forget the good deeds of a group of persons or an institution because the good is often forgotten in the face of the bad.
The Police Force has some excellent Officers and Departments.
My own recent experience with the Immigration Department suggests that it is led and staffed by men and women of the highest level of professionalism, efficiency and courtesy.
Similarly, sometime ago I had the occasion to visit the Traffic Headquarters at Eve Leary and my dealing with the then Head, an Indo Guyanese, I found similar, high levels of courtesy and propriety.
These Officers and Ranks deserve our approbation and as citizens, we can all be proud of them.
On the other hand, there are some Officers and Ranks, they behave as though they are Imperial Masters and can mistreat citizens, disregarding the law and the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
I again share with you Editor, an experience I had with certain ranks of the C.I.D. As Mayor, at one time we were seeking the active participation of several groups in an effort to save the city.
As such, I responded readily to a request by a CID Officer to visit their Headquarters.
When I got there, I was surprised that I was being questioned whether I knew of Oliver Hinckson’s plans to destabilise the PPP Government.
I responded to this absurdity and during my response, a rank brought Hinckson into the room and asked me if I knew him.
I responded in the affirmative, since I knew Oliver Hinckson, even before he became an Officer in the Guyana Defence Force.
It turned out that Hinckson had called to see me at City Hall.
We discussed ideas he had to involve civil society in the restoration of Georgetown.
Our discussions took place at the top of the stairs at City Hall in the open.
Now back to CID Headquarters, the Senior Officer left me sitting at CID, and a Corporal Singh brought a three-page document, instructing me to sign it.
The first paragraph, apart from grammatical errors seemed completely alien.
I was furious and asked Corporal Singh not to disrespect my intelligence.
I simply left the building. This matter was ventilated publicly and Hinckson was later released without charge.
I mention this to describe the kind of bullyism that seems to permeate sections of the Police Force.
The kind of thinking which may or may not explain the slaying of Boston at Dartmouth.
The other aspect I wish to refer to has to do with the perception that certain sections of our society seem to forgive easily.
Most of us accept that forgiveness cannot change what has already been done, but it bestows upon the forgiver a certain magnificence that is difficult to measure.
Having said that, let us be reminded that Dartmouth is a Community with the majority being Afro Guyanese.
Records show that during slavery, Dartmouth was used as a special slave farm, where the slaves were fed better than others were, so that they could become harder working and more productive “beast of burden” and this explains why the majority of people, the descendants of slaves in Dartmouth have tended to be bigger than those from many other areas.
Word is out that the Police claim they were looking for illegal drugs.
Perhaps, I don’t understand the workings of the Police, but I thought CANU was the Agency given the responsibility to track down illegal drugs and narcotics.
As a Citizen, I would think that a well-armed SWAT Team on the Essequibo Coast should be better deployed to stop the flow of illegal persons from Venezuela entering Guyana, but the Administration for some obscure reason seems more interested in keeping out Haitians.
I suppose someone in the Police hierarchy would say whether the above makes sense or not, whether the above is logical or not.
But now, let us look at Afro-Guyanese tendency to forgive.
Years ago, even before Independence, one of our prominent Leaders taught us that for us every race is important.
Be that as it may, from the time of slavery, one can ask whether this willingness by slaves and their descendants to easily forgive has worked against them.
Thanks to the theology of the Christian Missionaries who worked among the slaves and Manumitted Africans, the virtue of forgiveness was emphasised and today remains deep down in the African Guyanese psyche.
When the Immigrants came to replace the freed Africans labour on the plantations, this reduced the bargaining power of the freed Africans.
The Africans didn’t hold this against the Immigrants who in modern parlance were used by the plantocracy to diminish the power and contribution of centuries of free labour.
Recall, that after Emancipation, the Plantation owners were given money for the loss of free labour but not one cent to those who laboured from dawn to dusk in the sugar and cotton fields.
I leave us to ponder for even today, there is much media coverage, for the land rights of our Amerindians in this Heritage Month.
Last month, Emancipation Month, very little was heard about African ancestral lands and reparation.
But of course, the African must forgive.
But Dear Editor, even as a group of people, we choose to forgive those who have even heaped burning coals on our woolen hairs, we and our descendants must not forget.
In a country like Guyana, we must remember our history and don’t take too much for granted.
Specifically, the President and the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs, who assured the nation that justice, will be done.
We have seen words of justice, democracy and equality used by those in authority to cement their authority and justify misdeeds.
These place people and the nation in turbulent waters and a great danger to the project for peace.
We have seen in the case of the torture of the two Henry’s cousins, a family member took on the mantle of Police and the Court and killed a person who he and the family felt were responsible for the murder and torture of the two young Henrys.
Whenever an Administration fails to be transparent and ensure justice for all, the above incident will not be an isolated case.
Specifically, the Administration must not ask the Police Force to investigate this and other incidents.
Second, the Opposition, respected Members of the Judiciary and Members representing Civil Society/Public, should be assembled to investigate this matter and the Police Force be required to produce all relevant information and documents.
We need to know who led and constituted the SWAT Team and whether the SWAT Team was the appropriate arm of the Government to have descended on a family of two, plus two small children and why the hour was selected.
The members of the Inquiry should not be known sycophant posing as representing the Private Sector.
Individuals who benefitted materially from this Government are unlikely to do anything that could expose a weakness in a Government Agency, and these consultations with the Opposition, etc, should commence in earnest post haste
The Government must know that there is distrust of their motives by several sections of the population and even if it is a perception, it cannot be ignored.
In 1914, when the heir to the Austrian throne was assassinated by a Serb, because of tension and a perception of injustice in Europe, it was a spark that led to the brutal World War I.
Today’s Guyana has frustration, fears by some who are being marginalised and of course resentment.
My reading suggests if the President is serious of his talk of One Guyana, the above suggestions should be a non-negotiable.
All animals including the human species when pushed in a corner fight back even to their death.
Mr. President, Mr. Min. of Home Affairs, don’t push “awe dis” in a corner.
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