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…to write top cop on issue
The Guyana Public Service Union has slammed the police forcevfor what it described as the disproportionate use of force on squatters at Success, East Coast Demerara.
On Wednesday last police opened fire on the squatters and deployed an excavator to remove an access bridge to the area where the squatters occupied.
Persons there, both of Afro and Indo ethnicity, told the Village Voice that they had no other option but to move to the area after the COVID-19 pandemic when their income slowed and some were fired from their jobs.
“This is the coronavirus period, people can’t afford to pay rent because you can’t get work nowhere! Nobody isn’t getting jobs, we come here to live somewhere and now they moving we. We can’t afford to pay rent!” one male squatter shouted emotionally.
Another man who garbed his head in a white t-shirt as a means of protection from the virus and the tear gas, pleaded: “I wanna ask the President and the Prime Minister if y’all ain’t got feelings for poor people. Y’all tek the oil, y’all tek the gold, y’all tek the sugar and give we the land. Y’all tek everything and give we the land. That’s all we want, that’s all we want. We’re begging you!”
For its part, the GPSU said: “Live video recordings revealed that a number of residents including women and children were struck by projectiles discharged by firearms in the possession of Police Officers, the severity and intensity of the onslaught was such that many of those struck were forced to seek medical attention. The Union itself has experienced its members being on the receiving end of similar disproportionate and unwarranted use of force by the Guyana Police Force in the past,” GPSU said in a statement.
According to the union, such insensitivity and aggression have no place in a democratic society such as ours where Guyanese reserve the constitutional right to peacefully express their displeasures or grievances. “Therefore, it should not have happened in the first place, and ought not to be condoned.” The GPSU said it is public knowledge, and the Guyana Police Force is undoubtedly aware that in recent times citizens in a number or countries have experienced several occurrence of police brutalities, resulting in public outcry globally.
The Guyana Police Force, the union said has repeatedly boasted about the high quality of training received by its law enforcement officers, consequently, these officers are expected to be equipped with the necessary training and skillsets to exercise a measured response contextual to various unfolding events and situations encountered.
“While the Guyana Public Service Union notes the timely intervention by the senior Government functionaries with a view to an amicable resolution regarding the plight of the residents, the Union trusts that the Guyana Police Force deems the aforementioned actions on its part as regrettable, and directly convey its remorse to the residence and further, that immediate corrective action is taken to ensure no future recurrence.”
In this regard, The Guyana Public Service Union said it would be writing the Commissioner of Police (ag), to express its concerns regarding the incident, and expectations that senior functionaries within the Guyana Police Force take appropriate remedial action with dispatch.