The Black Clothes Police are acting on behalf of the government
Stabroek News
May 16, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Victor Bourne was shot dead in his bed at Rasville, Georgetown by the Black Clothes Police a few years ago. Recently, Shaka Blair's wife was separated from him while sleeping in bed and Mr Blair was shot dead by the police in his bedroom at Buxton, E.C.D. A few days ago, Wesley Hendricks of Princess Street, Wortmanville, Georgetown, was dragged from his living room to his bedroom and shot dead by the Black Clothes. Stabroek News, May 12, 2002, reports that Saturday evening businessman Ramdeo and his wife Sita Persaud of Annandale E.C.D. were removed from their hammocks under the house and taken into a bedroom upstairs where they were shot dead by "bandits".

I began drafting a letter to you on violence and counter- violence having read Mr Hoyte's letter to you captioned "PNC has not used or tolerated criminal elements in its protests" (SN May 8, 2002) and was not sure I was going to post it because I was overwhelmed by bread and butter activities. But with this recent "shoot gat shoot-back", I have regained the urge to write you and post.

For me Frantz Fanon, the philosopher of West Indian birth, who actively supported and organised the resistance to French colonialism in Algeria in the 1960's by authoring the book "The Wretched of The Earth", was the greatest modern authority on violence and counter-violence.

Fanon's central insight was that the policemen and soldiers in that colonial society, Algeria, were the spokesmen of the settlers. Fanon talked of violence within the concrete situation of colonialism, and showed how freedom can come to pass by counter-violence action. Let's use Fanon's originative insight of violence in discussing "The PPP's history of violence and murder in Guyana" (sub-title of PNC pamphlet in wide circulation), and we come to the conclusion that the Black Clothes police are the spokesmen of the PPP government, as seen from the view of those who still mourn the death of Victor Bourne, Shaka Blair and Wesley Hendricks, and "bandits" are the spokesmen of anti-government citizens, as seen from those who mourn the death of Ramdeo and Sita Persaud. We are firmly in the atmosphere of violence and counter-violence and we have to discuss this atmosphere philosophically.

The history of the PPP's encounter with the people of Guyana began around 1947/48 although the party's formal existence began in 1950. From 1947 to the present, we have had only the politics of anger and hatred from the PPP. The party approaches production from the position of "Portuguese" or "imperialists".

Roydon Field-Ridley Sr. has repeated to me on several occasions that the 1948 shooting of Indian workers at Enmore sugar factory was inflamed by the Jagans who aimed to destroy the leadership of Dr. J P Latchmansingh and propel the leadership of Dr Cheddi Jagan onto the consciousness of the East Indians. J P Latchmansingh was attending to the matter as an industrial dispute while the Jagans approach was political. After the workers were killed, the Jagans walked from Enmore to Georgetown with the dead bodies with the slogan "wey J P deh now". Mr Field-Ridley is approaching 100 but I urge you to interview him because I promised but have not been able to do this work. (I would still like to ghostwrite his autobiography, as is his wish).

Confrontation has been at the very inception of the PPP's history. As the party tossed to and fro during the 1950's it embraced slogans from communist literature to apan jaat and delivered havoc to the people of Guyana. But racial imperialism was its major thrust. Peter d'Aguiar questioned it and moved from the atmosphere of business to the atmosphere of politics to solve the problem.

PPP brutality between 1957 and 1964 is well documented and in 1963 Forbes Burnham remarked that the PPP government was "another form of imperialism equal in every respect to that which provoked the slave rebellion in 1763." Thus, it is now appropriate to pose Fanon's question "How do we pass from an atmosphere of violence to violence in action?"

The PNC has documented the violence and murder in Guyana from 1963 to 1964 in the pamphlet Lest We Forget that is in wide circulation presently - op cit. A violent act that is not included in that list is the bomb blast at the US consulate in Main street, Georgetown in which three persons were hurt according to newspaper reports on June 25, 1965. With this act the Guyanese people had international allies to free them from the murderous PPP regime.

The PPP returned to government in 1992 and made out that they are saints. Even in government they are projecting themselves as the oppressed party - oppressed by Black civil servants, Black police, Black criminals and Black what have you. Ravi Dev campaigns that the PPP constituency is made up of saints - "innocent businessmen" - and is given a lot of space to do missionary work on violence, from Crabwood Creek to Pomeroon river, while the PPP is fulfilling a boast as reported in the newspapers of 1964 that they are capable of dealing with the police force. Their tactic of dealing with the Guyana Police Force is to set up the Community Police Groups, the Black Clothes and other organs to constrain the force. Read "The Wretched of the Earth" and grasp the outstanding philosophy of Frantz Fanon.

According to Fanon, "it is only when the colonized appropriates the violence of the colonizer that he re-enters the realm of history and human historical becoming". Here, at the moment, Andrew Douglas "the bandit", "the criminal", "the outlaw", with his recent video broadcast, which was seen and heard on VCT Channel 28 and WRHM Channel 7, entered history and human historical becoming.

What has made this possible? Information technology has opened up new ideas and echoes from the world at large as we see Andrew Douglas as witness at a people's court and posing as Osama bin Laden. Malcolm X made the same transformation.

Also, Buxton village will not be denied their humanity. Their collective action has forced Mr Hoyte's mind to two questions in his letter to you. "What happens when this state violence is deployed, not for the protection of the people, but to oppose and terrorize them, as the regime has used the Black Clothes Police unshamedly within recent years? And when the regime projects a form of incipient violence by turning villages such as Enmore into an armed camp menacing adjacent villages, haven't the latter the rights and duty to take countervailing and self-defending measures?" These are human beings, not targets for the Black Clothes, who precipitated the questions in Mr Hoyte's mind.

Frantz Fanon asked similar questions in his famous book and after discussing how the authorities respond "with energetic measures" such as arrests (like Andrew Douglas' brother), increasing police and soldier patrols etc. said further down his discussion "repression urges on the forward rush of consciousness".

Buxton is a conscious political village as your recent man-in-the-street interviews reported. Today I met a young working female Buxtonian and to a question I asked she responded that the village had Black Out last night (Saturday May 11th), and then she put her finger to her lips in a gesture we know as "hush your mouth". Fanon interpreted that silence to mean "the oppressor approaches". If the police enters, the village expects "the bandits" to defend them. Let me quote Mr Hoyte again from his letter to you that I cited, "I personally have led some of the largest demonstrations ever seen in this country in which there was not a single untoward incident. In these cases the police never attempted to interfere. In fact, they were conspicuous by their absence.

This gives point to the observation that protests create opportunities for confusion only when the police unjustifiably and unnecessarily intervene by shooting at the protestors, laying on tear smoke and making baton charges".

Philosophically, a liberating violence is in the consciousness of Buxton.

I must end this letter to you. I have pointed that the Black Clothes are the spokesmen of the PPP government. I have used Frantz Fanon's insight as my tool because he is a Black philosopher of West Indian birth who wrote on the violence of decolonisation. Mr Hoyte used many White references in his letter to you, and he and Frantz Fanon are the same generation. I could have used Karl Marx whose writings are familiar to many in the PPP. Did not Marx also address the question of violence and counter-violence in the class struggle in Europe and conclude that only through violent conflict is the new born out of the dying old society?

The Lion of Judah shall break every chain and give us the victory again and again.

Yours faithfully,

Ras Tom Dalgety