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On standby: Ranks of the Guyana Police Force were at the ready at Good Hope yesterday hours after the funeral procession for Andrew Douglas had passed. (Photo by Clairmonte Marcus)
Traffic snarled at the Lusignan Market following efforts by the police to prevent vehicles from travelling along the East Coast Public Road during Andrew Douglas' funeral yesterday.
Up to now it is unclear who was behind the fatal shooting.
The Guyana Police Force in a press release last evening refuted a report in a section of the media that the funeral was incident free. The release said that the usual "criminal behaviour" that has been a feature at the funerals of wanted men in Buxton continued. According to the GPF at 3.25 pm yesterday a police vehicle was pelted by persons resulting in damage to the windshield. Five minutes later, a canter truck owned by a civilian was pelted with bottles. Further, the release said that at 5.50 pm a civilian vehicle was pelted with bottles causing the driver to abandon the vehicle on the Buxton Public Road and flee. This vehicle belongs to the International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA). Both the front and rear windshields were shattered and the driver and another employee sustained injuries as they fled. The vehicle with licence plate number BHH 1144 was towed away from Buxton and left at Annandale by two police officers. Moreover, at 6.15 pm the police were forced to release tear smoke in the air in order to disperse a crowd which was pelting vehicles on Company Road. Shotgun pellets were also fired to disperse a crowd at Friendship junction which was pelting vehicles. The release added that the police are investigating a report that two small boys were robbed at gunpoint at around 5.30 pm of $700 and $200 respectively at Annandale North.
Yesterday, unlike other occasions, Douglas' family did not participate in any march from the city to Buxton with his body. The body was escorted from the Ashton and Debra (A&D) Funeral Parlour in the city to Buxton where two separate services were held for him. Stabroek News understands that when Douglas' body arrived at Buxton a group of men took him into the village a little over the embankment to a place called the `Gulf'. The body was there for over three hours and only certain people were allowed to view the body. Rastafarian chants and Bob Marley music helped spiced the atmosphere at the back.
Leaving the `Gulf' the former wanted man's casket was hoisted high by fellow villagers with the Golden Arrowhead fluttering on a flag pole and a huge procession followed as his body was escorted into the Buxton Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church for the funeral service. Along the way to the church, sporadic gunfire and firecrackers were heard from within the village and this continued throughout the one-hour funeral service.
During the emotionally-charged ceremony, Douglas was remembered not as a wanted fugitive but as a loving and dedicated Buxtonian, committed to serving his family, his community and his country. While no one came forward to pay tribute when it was requested, in a stirring eulogy, his sister, Lisa Innis, paid homage to her brother whom she described as a wonderful person and the "gem of Buxton." Seeking to serve and protect the people of the country, Douglas joined the Police Training School in 1983 and spent four years in the force, she said. An extremely generous person, who was well-beloved by everyone in his family and community, she described Douglas as the "godfather of the village," much to the approval of those in attendance, who shed tears and lauded Douglas' life as they remembered it. Douglas had been held in jail in connection with a number of armed robberies including violence-laden ones in association with Linden `Blackie' London. Folowing his escape, he made a controversial videotape in which he said he was innocent of the charges laid against him.
Phillip Bowman, President of the Guyana Conference of SDA in his message told the gathering that the time has come for them to start a revolution. "Not a revolution with an AK-47 and M-70 rifle, but one that would allow God to return to the root of the country." He insisted that "righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people." Bowman called on the Buxtonians to put down their guns, adding that there is no hope in smoking dope. He argued that the reason for the many crimes in the country is that the people have forgotten God. At the end of the service Bowman prayed for the deceased's family including his mother Nova Douglas who is a staunch SDA and later urged the church to join hands in prayer while singing a song of unity. Leaving the church, Douglas' body was taken to the Friendship Cemetery and as it is customary now, no sooner was he laid to rest the confusion erupted. While leaving the church, this newspaper observed several glass bottles broken and left on the road. Around this time, traffic on both ends of the road stopped flowing. The police kept their distance from the crowd and only ventured near when the funeral ended. Around this time, eyewitnesses said that two young men armed with a handgun and a chopper accosted canecutters, demanding their wages. Fortunately the men had not been paid this week-end and as such they told the bandits that they were "bruks without money". They even searched the shoes of the canecutters to be sure. Standing not too far from the bandits observing their movements, one of the men was about to turn his attack on another because of his perceived ethnicity but was persuaded against it. From all indications the young brigands did not plunder much. It was around 6:15 pm when ranks from the Police Tactical Services Unit (TSU) moved in on the `limers' on the road and managed to disperse the crowd. They also helped to clear the roadway allowing for vehicles to pass. Up to late last evening vehicular traffic was proceeding past Buxton with police a escort.