No incidents reported in PNC/R city march
- Hoyte repeats charges against Police Force

Guyana Chronicle
May 24, 2001

POLICE kept a close watch on a small march in the city yesterday afternoon by the PNC/R that targeted alleged brutality by some sections of the Police Force, but no incidents were reported.

The march organised by the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) started out with about 100 people from the 1763 Monument Square and ended up with about 400 on the return to the square where party and Opposition Leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte repeated strident allegations against the Police Force.

PNC/R street marches in Georgetown since the March 19 elections which the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won, had often turned violent with supporters clashing with the Police and stores forced to close by protesters.

Police said several persons were robbed and beaten during previous marches but yesterday's was generally peaceful and orderly.

Most of the stores on Regent Street, often targeted by protesters in previous marches, were closed by the time the group moved off from the square at about 16:00 hrs (4 p.m.)

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Laurie Lewis came under the brunt of attack yesterday as the marchers chanted for his removal from office.

PNC/R officials said the march was against Police brutality, freedom of expression and extra-judicial killings by the Police.

Several officials of the party were among the marchers and Hoyte joined them at the 1763 Monument Square for an after-march meeting.

A flyer distributed by PNC/R officials reported the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) as saying the Police killed 13 civilians during this year compared to nine in 1999, 11 in 1998 and 27 in 1997.

It said in most cases, the Police shot the victims while attempting to arrest them or while a crime was being committed.

Hoyte referred to the killings as a twin evil that has gripped the society, claiming there was a conspiracy of silence among those who call themselves leaders of civil society.

"They don't raise their voice in protest against the wrongdoings of the government and its agencies", he charged.

He repeated earlier claims that there are elements in the Police Force who are completely out of control but noted that there are decent Policemen, "those who are prepared to carry out their duties in an honest, professional manner".

He again singled out the `Black Clothes' anti-crime unit for criticism, alleging that they are "completely out of control".

"We cannot continue to be silent", Hoyte said, adding that persons killed are said to have had weapons, cutlasses or knives and pose a threat to the Police, which is far from the truth.

He said Guyana is the only country where Policemen can fire their guns and kill people without being investigated.

Even in the United States, he said, every time a Police officer draws his gun, he has to face a board of inquiry or internal affairs.