Police raid Buxton homes
Arrest three businessmen
May 6, 2001
Three businessmen in Buxton were yesterday taken into custody and placed in the lock-ups at Cove and John Police Station following an early morning police raid in the village.
Meanwhile Buxton took on the scene of a military zone with several vehicles full of armed policemen patrolling all day long yesterday. At the same time young villagers could be seen collecting debris which they dumped by the roadside.
The three businessmen arrested are fifty-two year-old Compton Huntley popularly known as `Charlie', the proprietor of the Roger Harper Fan Club on Buxton Public Road; Trevor Barrett, 39, proprietor of the Top End Gro-cery and Beer Garden at 98 Friendship; and Marlon Amsterdam, who runs a confectionery, grocery and drinks shop at 52 Friendship (Line Top).
Up to press time Stabroek News had been unable to obtain a comment from the police on the reasons for the detention of the three men. When this newspaper contacted Commander of the Guyana Police Force `C' Division, Assistant Commissioner Jameer at 4:20 pm he said that he had just returned from the Mahaicony River and he had not yet been briefed by his detectives. Stabroek News was unable to contact him later in the evening.
Former President and PNC REFORM Leader Desmond Hoyte yesterday visited Buxton and the businessmen who were held in the lock-ups at Cove and John. Accom-panying him were attorney-at-law Basil Williams and PNC REFORM Member of Parlia-ment Andy Gouveia. Also listening to the concerns of residents in Buxton were REFORM Leader Stanley Ming, and PNC REFORM Executive Members Raphael Trotman and Joseph Hamilton.
Huntley, a prominent businessman and ex-paratrooper, in front of whose residence and business place the exchange of gunfire between the police and "criminal elements" had taken place on Wednesday night, was one of a number of businessmen who had condemned the violence. They had maintained that the assault on persons in two mini-buses, the robberies and the attack on the police had been instigated by "criminal elements" and not genuine protestors.
Buxton had been rocked by a number of protest actions following the March 19 general elections, the protesters claiming disenfranchisement, marginalisation and discrimination.
Yesterday morning a number of residents were awakened and their homes searched by the police, who they said, told them that they were searching for drugs, weapons, and persons wanted for robbery under arms. Among those whose residences were searched were a school teacher. Some said the police bluntly told them that they were carrying out the search because people were saying that they were not doing their job properly and it was time they did so.
Recalling the events, Huntley's wife, Princess Huntley, who is also Regional Democratic Councillor of Region Four, told Stabroek News that about 6:05 am she was opening the shop to hang out her craft work on the shop's verandah when she saw a number of police vehicles on the Public Road. A number of heavily armed policemen in black and khaki uniforms then jumped out of the vehicles "swarmed the yard and surrounded the home." She said that a policeman who was accompanied by a sergeant based at Vigi-lance Police Station asked her if "Charlie Huntley live here" and she replied yes, but that he was asleep. She was asked to wake him and she instructed her son to do so. When her husband got up she said that the police told him that they had a search warrant to look for ammunition and guns.
Mrs Huntley related that her husband did not wait for them to read the warrant but invited them into the house with two policemen preceding him and he following behind. They searched and "tumbled up everything" in the three bedrooms and when they were through questioned her husband on his bed. They took away his licensed hand gun after which they led him to one of the vehicles where they kept him sitting for half a hour before they took him to Vigilance Police Station before transferring himself and the two others to Cove and John.
Mrs Huntley said that the only reason the police gave her for holding her husband was that he was an ex-paratrooper, and that those firing machine guns at the police on Wednesday had had experience and military know-how.
Trevor Barrett's reputed wife Melissa Stephen, who is recuperating after surgery to her right leg and is unable to move about on foot, said that the police came to her home about 5:30 am and said they were searching for firearms. They did so but found nothing in the home and business. She said the police claimed they had a search warrant which they did not show her, and they did not identify themselves. Nevertheless Barrett allowed them to conduct their search. She did not know why her reputed husband was held.
Self-employed/housewife, Mignon Hatton who lived above Amsterdam who was also taken into custody by the police recalled hearing a hard banging on her back door shortly after 5:00 am. When she opened the door to the police, who had surrounded the whole yard heavily armed, she said they told her they were looking for two persons by the names of `Marlon' and `Tony' who were wanted by the police for armed robbery. She told the police that it was just she and her 14 year old daughter who lived there, but they proceeded to search the whole house without providing a search warrant. Amsterdam, who lived on the ground floor of the same building, and whose name was Marlon was taken into custody. He lived by himself so no one could say what transpired.
About the same time the police were searching Amsterdam and Hatton's home a teacher on the same street was being questioned by the police and her home searched for drugs.
The teacher, Sharon Luke of Golden Grove Primary told Stabroek News that the police surrounded her yard and banged on her door asking them to open up. Her husband she said moved to open the door but she asked him to stay inside while she went to the door. Even though she objected to the police entering her home before showing her a warrant they forced their way in, she said. They entered her home saying they were looking for a person called Colin who was wanted by the police, and for drugs. At the same time, she said they held on to her husband saying that he was wanted at the station and she said that his name was not Colin.
She said after they asked her how she had acquired her television and other property, she said that she had to say by "hard dint of labour as a teacher." Before they left her home they had searched every corner of it. She and others noted that the police took down their names and addresses but did not give reasons for doing so.
In spite of constant police patrols in the village yesterday, a large number of people, the majority of them youths, were milling around in groups throughout the village. At one time during the afternoon, a number of them were seen placing logs and debris by the side of the road, presumably with the aim of starting fires and the police were kept busy removing them.
Some residents, obviously angry, told Stabroek News that whatever actions the village took to protest against the detention of "the respected businessmen" should not be linked to the PNC REFORM but to actions taken by Buxtonians themselves.
Some said that the police had acted without ndertaking proper investigations, leaving the armed criminal elements on the road and taking into custody respected businessmen whose property was now at risk from those same criminals because of the businessmen's absence.
Many reiterated that last Wednesday's fires, road blocks and assaults on mini-bus passengers in the vicinity of Buxton had been caused by the same "criminal elements" who were still at large and whom they insisted the police knew.
They said that some of these same criminal elements came from Georgetown and along the East Coast with "connections or possible connections in Buxton who are giving the village a bad name."
Some said they sympathised with the police on Wednesday but could not do so on this occasion as they needed to properly investigate before they harassed innocent people. They said if the police wanted cooperation from the people they would have to treat them with respect and that sentiment would be returned.