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The brutal killing of Isaiah and Joel Henry at Cotton Tree, West Coast Berbice was a racially motivated crime with political overtones according to the Society for African Guyanese Empowerment (SAGE).
In a statement issued by Dr. David Hinds on behalf of its executive and members, the organisation said “no amount of hypocrisy and willful ignorance could erase that indelible fact” adding that “racism is not determined by speculation of what is in the heart of people, but by an exposure of the enabling environment.”
In expressing outrage, the society urged the police to dispassionately pursue the perpetrators and to allow the wheels of justice to turn in the right direction.
“The police are trained to among other things solve crimes, but the cancer of racism cannot be exposed by criminal investigation. The victims of racism know it when they see and feel it, even when they call it by other names. Those who in this hour of family, community and racial pain seek to lecture African Guyanese about what is and is not racism deserve as heavy a condemnation as the killers” it said.
SAGE noted the attempt to criminalize the victims stating that though this is consistent with anti-black racist narratives, it must be treated with extreme scorn.
“As an African Guyanese organization, SAGE calls for a Pan-African solidarity from village to village and town to town to repel this open attack on the African Guyanese right to life. Silence and empty chats of peace are not viable options. Naked violence can only be turned back by narratives and acts of conscientious resistance. Every Black man, woman, and child along with their organizations of all stripes and kinds must rise with one clear message—Black lives matter and must be seen to matter”, the society said.
The society said attacks on the right to life of any group must be met with collective self-defense adding that the forms of self-defense would be determined by the intensity of the attacks and the response of the state to the ensuing protests.
In its call for a show of solidarity with the Henry Family and the West Berbice Community, the society further expressed the view that the right to protest is itself a form of self-defense that is protected by the constitution and by natural law. It went on to state that the attack on the victims is an attack on all African Guyanese and supporters of racial equality.
Reacting to the shooting of protesters on Monday night, SAGE said this is akin to rubbing salt and pepper in already gaping wounds.
It called on the Guyana Police Force to desist from escalating the situation.
The society also sought to make the linkage between the environment of racial animosity during the recently concluded Regional and General elections.
“The blatant anti-black racism, the March 6 violent racial attacks on Black school children and police officers and the criminalization of Black officials at GECOM vacillated either by silence or open encouragement by those who now hold high office combine to create the environment for the murder of the Henry boys”, the society said.