Protestors temporarily close Regent Street
Protesters attempt to shut down city
June 26, 2004
‘You can’t shed blood and expect business as usual’
A band of unruly protesters yesterday attempted to shut down the city in the wake of self-confessed informant, George Bacchus’s execution Thursday morning.
The protesters, comprising mainly women, stormed through Regent Street demanding that the businesses be closed.
Some attempted to close the businesses themselves by pulling down shutters and slamming doors. Many banged on doors as they called on storeowners to shut shop.
“You can’t shed blood and expect business as usual,” they shouted.
Just before noon, Regent Street was clear, except for pockets of people along the parapets and a few cars on the road.
Fearful storeowners closed their doors and some even took extra precaution to secure their buildings by erecting barricades.
Most stores remained shut for about four hours but re-opened when it appeared that everything had returned to normal.
The news that people were looting and damaging stores spread like wildfire but that turned out to be a rumour.
Before long all the stores in Regent Street were closed.
Police patrols were ever present, moving along the streets but their presence did not deter the protesters from ordering the business places closed. In many cases, the protesters halted their activities until the police passed.
Nevertheless, the police remained vigilant.
Business owners expressed fear that Bacchus’s death will create serious tensions, particularly in the city. This could have a negative effect on business, they said.
“We can’t handle this nonsense again. Watch how long we get li’l peace fuh do we business and now dis happen,” one businessman commented.
“Why should our business suffer because of what happened? People should vent their anger at those responsible for the present crisis,” another lamented. Shutting down the city will not change anything as both the business and the society stand to lose, they added.
Prior to the protest, the People’s Movement for Justice (PMJ) staged a demonstration outside the office of the Home Affairs Minister, condemning the killing of Bacchus.
The PMJ, supported by the political opposition, said that it will now strengthen its call for a thorough and impartial inquiry into the allegations made by Bacchus and more so, an independent investigation into his murder.
The march started outside the Guyana Water Inc headquarters and was intended to be a silent protest. However, after it left the Home Affairs Ministry it turned ugly.
The concern was raised that it would be unwise and even foolish for the police to investigate Bacchus’s killing, since they failed to offer him protection.
Commissioner of Police Winston Felix said during Thursday’s press conference that Bacchus never approached him for protection and despite the seriousness of his allegations the police could not impose protection on someone.
The police in a statement yesterday, cautioned the unruly protesters to desist from any ill-advised forms of behaviour.
They added that in future such action would be met with the appropriate response.