Buxtonians continuing to attack passers-by, set fires
Camera ripped away from Stabroek News photographer
Stabroek News
June 26, 2002

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Some Buxtonians are continuing to attack passers-by and set fires on roads in the community and yesterday some of them pounced upon a Stabroek News photographer and seized his camera, while threatening him bodily harm. He was finally able to retrieve it minus the film.

They contended that everyone is against them because some sections of the society have labelled them criminals when, according to them, they are not. Loudly proclaiming their innocence, a group of villagers closed in on Stabroek News photographer Clairmonte Marcus and snatched his camera.

"We ain't want nobody tekking picture in heh... You just can't come in heh just like duh and ain't ask nobody nutten," one woman said challengingly. At the time, the photographer was taking pictures of three burning roadblocks on the Railway Embankment, just off Company Road, Buxton. Other villagers threatened to stone the newspaper's vehicle. Then they shouted: "Leh we get de sticks with de nails.

"You all does want write we up in de papers and call we criminals... we ain't criminals," another one insisted while encouraging the camera-snatcher to "bruk up de f...ing camera." After persuading them that he had relatives in the village, the photographer was able to retrieve his camera, minus the film.

When contacted yesterday, Chairman of the Buxton/Foulis Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Randolph Blair, told this newspaper that the villagers were reacting to the presence of the army. "They just get tired of seeing them [the soldiers]," Blair stated.

But a senior army official told Stabroek News: "It is just a group of unruly youths who seem out of control." He added that a number of residents "have welcomed our [the army's] presence and said that if we were not there, things would have been worse. They said they appreciate our presence."

According to him, some residents became agitated on Monday after a young man from the village was arrested. He refuted claims that members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) attempted to arrest a 12-year-old boy that day.

The boy's mother was arrested at a joint army/police roadblock at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara, early Monday morning, while travelling in the same car as a wanted man. The army official told Stabroek News that after the woman, the wanted man and the taxi driver were taken into custody Monday morning, a number of soldiers went to the woman's Webster Avenue home to conduct further investigations.

"We got information that the house was linked to [the wanted man's] operation," the army official said. According to him, the woman's nephew was arrested after he refused to cooperate with the soldiers. Up to press time last night, the woman, her nephew, the wanted man and the taxi driver were still in custody.

In a release yesterday, the police said that at about 13:00 hrs, a group of persons, mainly young men and women, assembled on the Railway Embankment, between Buxton Sideline Dam and Friendship, and set various objects ablaze along the road. According to the release, military personnel on patrol extinguished the fires and cleared the debris, which were, on two other occasions, reportedly thrown back on the road and set on fire. These fires were still burning when Stabroek News visited the area after 15:00 hrs yesterday.

The army contended that there were people on the lookout, and after the patrols would have passed, they would "come out and do their mischief." Stabroek News understands that the only way the blocking of the roads could be controlled is if the army establishes static patrols.

The police release also stated that at about 14:40 hrs, "persons threw lit coconut branches onto the Buxton Public Road at the junction of Company Road. However, an alert police patrol quickly removed the branches preventing obstruction to vehicular traffic."

As a result, vehicular traffic was diverted from the Railway Embankment, onto the main road, between Strathspey and Annandale. "The area is relatively quiet with patrols being maintained on the main road and the embankment," the police said at 17:04 hrs.

Acting Commissioner of Police, Floyd McDonald again appealed to residents of Buxton to "allow peace to prevail and to abide by the laws of the country."

Meanwhile, in an earlier release, the police said they were conducting investigations "into several deplorable criminal acts" which occurred on Monday in the Buxton/Friendship area. The police said the residents were reacting to the arrest of a man, "who had forced his way through a military cordon."

In the first incident, the police said, at about 18:10 hrs, the driver of a mini-bus was robbed of $45,000 cash and a cellular phone after he was forced to stop on the Buxton Public Road by the objects that were placed across the road.

"After robbing the driver of the bus, [a] group of persons then pushed the vehicle into a nearby trench and set it on fire... Then at about 22:50 hrs, a 51-year-old resident of Cove and John, [another East Coast Demerara village east of Buxton] was driving his minibus along the Friendship Public Road when he was attacked by two men who threw gasoline into his bus and set it alight after he stopped to pick up passengers," the release stated.

The police said the passengers quickly disembarked and helped put out the flames. No one was injured and the bus was not badly damaged, the police said.

The third incident reportedly occurred close to midnight. The police said an Enmore resident was beaten and robbed of his car and a wristwatch by five men armed with guns. That man, too, was reportedly forced to stop because of a large fire in the centre of the Friendship Public Road. The car was later recovered in the vicinity of the Church of God Road at Buxton, minus the battery and ignition keys.