Police brutality? Bandits’ brutality! Frankly Speaking...
By A.A Fenty
Stabroek News
August 2, 2002

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The current environment of banditry and crime such as we’ve never experienced here before has influenced my choice of lead topic for the fourth Friday (today). Whatever happens, I promise to avoid it next week.

I’m moved to juxtapose the imagery of two types of violent, brutal behaviour by two groups. Much of the “evidence” against police “brutality” is often based on accounts by eyewitnesses with personal interests to serve. But just over the past fortnight, the actual recorded instance of brutality by bandits, robberies with violence on a daily basis, move me to make the odious comparison, in order to make a significant point.

There is no denying that some policemen use more than excessive force to either subdue or get information from suspects or arrest persons. This is apart from when the cops are not justifiably defending themselves from the attacks by those criminals who have absolutely no scruples where human life is concerned. And no, I’m not even discussing the (recent) bygone days when ruling politicians used enforcers and Special Branch Strong Arms to torture opponents (ask Roopnaraine or Nagamootoo), or when “confessions” were routinely beaten out of victims in Eve Leary Backrooms or other “Interrogation Chambers”. I know that there are occasions still, when certain detectives and other special investigators see the urgent need to be extremely physical with their suspects.

What the police do then is to ignore the lawful procedures, just as the bandits do, normally. (To me, “two wrongs will make a right” if the murderous guilty are caught through these unlawful means. Argue, debate it later).

For those too young to know - under 30 - of police torture and brutality under previous governments - it will not be evident what a great, successful job has been done by opposition politicians, aided sometimes by the local Human Rights outfit, letter writers editorials etc, to paint certain sections of the force as the counterparts of old-time Haiti’s Ton-Ton Macoutes or Grenada’s Gairy’s Mon-goose Squad. I say no doubt there have been recent excesses, no doubt rogue cops helping themselves and getting ensnared by representatives of cartels. But reprehensible as it is, it does not yet compare to the consistent activities over de-cades, of the then real Enforcer Special Squad(s). Aided by “civil society’s/ religious” House of Israel. But that’s another sordid story.

All the advisers and reformers will naturally call on our Police Force to be “professional” to play the crooks’ game by the law book. I hope it is realised that wherever those advisers are, or come from, their forces, most likely, accommodate “special/elite/crack/ swat/anti-crime/rapid response units and teams”. They and we know that armed dangerous, murderous-minded criminals don’t react to Sunday-school cops.

Sometimes the law seems to favour or protect the rights of the criminals primarily. Human rights don’t seem to apply to police. Well, my readers and citizens, in this politically-charged and engineered crime-ridden Guyana of today, you’d better be glad that we still have and support policemen - brave honest cops - like those who faced the criminals on the UG road last week Thursday. (For once their crooked buddies - if there were any involved - and the crooks did not get through on phones and radios to thwart the exercise). Respect to those cops!

But have you been hearing and reading about the brutality of today’s bandits?

Can you stand or stomach the viciousness, the savage, murderous intent, the near-barbarism of their violence and brutality? It’s no pleasure to repeat but to make my point I refer only to solid, first-person eyewitness reports of what they did to the Famey elder on the highway - how they treated that senior citizen - how they traumatised and brutalised other senior old ladies on the East Coast of Demerara - the body-blows from cutlasses and gun-butts; what they did in stuffing objects into the mouth and nostrils of a three-year-old! All from the movies or worse than the movies as they riddle bodies already dead. The great danger is that this daily diet of death by the desperadoes is becoming indifferent to a few.

And, of course, my frightened friends - and I am scared silly - these purveyors of destruction, robbery, violence and death - some people’s heroes and freedom fighters - arrogantly do their deeds unmasked these days. They make noise and arrogantly hold the innocent under siege. Because they know the justice “system”. They know their favourite lawyers will defend them for the fat fees they can afford to pay!

Well, in my civilised rule-of-law contest let my police “brutality” meet theirs! Let the exalted pray for them. And for me.

Black pride in Kwayana’s Buxton

“Young, gifted and black” - and proud. Great sentiments as I depart from my annual repetitive offerings on Republic Day and during Emancipation Week. I shall not today, dwell on great black achievements and the futility of achievement without generations-long substance. Or my usual lament about whither black business.

No, the politicisation of those issues - unavoidable, inevitable perhaps, makes me pen just a few notes to the elder Kwayana: I hope you too have returned to re-take the Buxton from the “cowards” who have transformed your once glorious village into a den of desperadoes, a haven for fugitives. I trust Elder, that you inspire the few of your age-group that convicted murderous bandits are not Robin Hoods. Let them refuse the spoils taken from dead victims.

Let me recall with you the literary and research-oriented thrill I had finding out, in the mid-70’s, from teacher George Younge, Joel Benjamin, Tommy Payne and you - just why “Buxton people stop train”. Black Buxtonian pride is now compromised and distorted. You tell them again: what sponsored mischief the young uninformed/misinformed now see as struggles for the “marginalised” cannot be equated to the earlier glorious resistance of their forefathers. Teach them for their true Emancipation!

Let there be peace

1) My own belated farewells to Lenny Lancaster (singer/calypso activist) Mr. Bovell (agriculturalist, father of many of my friends) and Kester Alves (media practitioner/gentleman politician who knew just how to disagree with a new or old opponent).

2) Great Stuff Kaieteur! “A police source close to this newspaper...” and those details in your story about the bandit’s brother’s arrest great! Really on the inside/in the know...

3) Yes I’m disappointed. Even though I understand their internal need for solidarity, nothing new or fresh from the PPP/C. Somehow, I feel there will be minor surprises from the PNC/R. Nothing to change their course though!

4) I’ve got to get near to Queen Yasmin. She was so upset that she didn’t win the chutney finals. She refused a $100,000.00 prize! Poor me.

5) Not to be outdone by any duck curry competition the ACDA Emancipation folks held their own metemgee competition yesterday. Expect a low-mein or pepperpot tussle soon.

Of course, I can solve those culinary conflicts with an all-embracing cook-up competition!

`Til next week!