Buxton-Friendship residents protest 'police brutality'

Stabroek News
November 13, 1999

Seventeen residents of the Buxton-Friendship area yesterday picketed the Ministry of Home Affairs claiming police brutality by a recently-formed police anti-crime squad on the East Coast of Demerara.

The residents, who carried placards bearing slogans such as "Wilson and Bob must go", "We are not animals", and "Find the real criminals, you know them", allege that the policemen are engaged in a reign of terror in the village and this is inconsistent with their motto "To serve and protect". Police spokesman Ivelaw Whittaker was yesterday contacted on the charges and promised to get back to Stabroek News on them.

Stabroek News spoke to Deon Abrams, a resident of the neighbourhood and a teacher and part-time University of Guyana lecturer. He claims to have suffered at the hands of the squad. He related an event that occurred last Saturday evening at around 20:00 hrs as he stopped to chat with a group of friends about a previous incident earlier that evening.

Abrams said he saw persons running for cover following which he turned around and saw approaching lights. Shortly after he noticed that it was a vehicle filled with armed policemen, who in a rude manner demanded that persons go home.

According to the teacher, he refused saying that it was his democratic right to be on the streets. He said that when asked by him to show cause for his removal, the police did not reply.

The officers, he claimed, continued to insist that he must move or be arrested but he persistently refused. At this point they snatched the front of his shirt and dragged him to the vehicle. He retaliated and was attacked with a gun and a baseball bat.

Abrams alleges that he received lashes to the body, shin and face in the presence of residents, as he was forced into the van and commanded to sit on the ground. He refused and received a further barrage of blows.

The matter it is said was reported to the regional force commander who subsequently visited the village. According to reports, he promised to take action on hearing complaints from residents.

The matter is also being pursued with legal authorities for advice on steps to be taken in the wake of the incidents.

A recent statement from the Buxton Working People's Alliance (WPA) group said that three weeks ago, several residents were brutalised by armed members of the Guyana Police Force.

According to the WPA, residents Rupert Amsterdam, Romeo Roseman and Abrams were subjected to brutality by the police.

The WPA called on the Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, to launch an investigation into those incidents.

The Toucan MultiPurpose Club in the community has also condemned the violent action by the police upon residents they describe as peaceful, law abiding citizens of the village.

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