Gunshots fired in Buxton incident
- Hoyte writes Prime Minister on matter By Isaiah Chappelle
Guyana Chronicle
January 22, 2002

GUNSHOTS were fired as tensions flared again Sunday night between Police and residents of Buxton/Friendship, East Coast Demerara.

No one was reported hurt as Police attempted to clear the railway embankment road which was blocked and debris set on fire after four persons were reportedly arrested by Police.

Public Relations and Press Officer of the Police Force, Mr. David Ramnarine said he was unaware that four persons from the area were arrested.

In a statement, Police said that while ranks were extinguishing a fire prior to removing a blockage at about 21:40 hrs on Sunday, several gunshots were fired in the vicinity of Buxton/Friendship.

The road block, which consisted of branches and several pieces of logs about 20 feet long, was eventually removed, Police said.

Another fire was lit on Friendship Brush Dam at about 23:10 hrs, which was also put out by ranks of the Force and the Fire Service.

Residents in the area told the Chronicle yesterday that the Police ranks harassed and beat the four men before arresting them.

The angry villagers said they had no idea what the men were arrested for, but the Police arrived suddenly and proceeded to harass citizens.

In retaliation, they said they then decided to block and set fire on the roadway to prevent the Police from entering the area.

There were remnants of burnt pieces of material on the road yesterday.

One resident said she heard gunshots and decided not to venture out of her house because she was afraid.

Others said they also heard shots but had no idea who fired them.

Opposition Leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte accused the Police of "provocative behaviour" towards Buxtonians and said this was causing unnecessary and dangerous tensions to surface once more in that community.

"These policemen have revived the practice of driving through the village at high speed, harassing and threatening villagers and arresting young men without justification", he said in a letter to Prime Minister and acting President, Mr. Sam Hinds.

"It is this practice that led to the serious problems experienced in Buxton and associated villages last year, and I had occasion to write President (Bharrat) Jagdeo drawing this matter to his attention", he added.

He said he received a complaint Sunday evening and at about 22:00 hrs when he arrived on the scene, tensions were rising.

"A Black Clothes Police Squad had rampaged through the village firing their guns and terrorising residents", Hoyte reported. He said two young men were taken away from the village.

"Their intimidating behaviour and the injustice of the arrests generated great resentment and villagers gathered at various points to discuss the incident", he added.

The Opposition Leader said he was talking to a group of residents on the railway embankment road when a vehicle with some `Black Clothes Police Officers' drove up and stopped.

One of the officers, he said, approached the group with his pistol drawn.

After enquiring what was the need for his action, because the group was not behaving in a disorderly manner and was not blocking the roadway or committing any offence, Hoyte said the officer apologised, withdrew and the vehicle left the scene.

"I am satisfied that if I had not been present on the scene there would have been an ugly confrontation between those Policemen and the villagers", he said.

"It is reported that, later that night, the Policemen took to driving through the village streets at a furious rate, obviously to instill fear and terror", Hoyte, also leader of the main Opposition People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) told the Prime Minister.

He said he was hoping that the Police could be persuaded to display greater sensitivity and professionalism generally in dealing with members of the public and, more specifically, the villagers of Buxton.

"It is difficult to escape the conclusion that there are some people who are unhappy with the current state of tranquility prevailing in the country and would like to see a resurgence of confrontation and public unrest", he added.
Prime Minister Hinds was not available for comment.