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Prime Minister (PM), Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips, and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall held a meeting on Friday with residents of Golden Grove on the East Coast of Demerara to discuss their safety and security concerns.
A Department of Public Information (DPI) release said the meeting served as part of the Government’s continued efforts to address riotous actions that resulted in looting, bodily injuries and damage to vehicles on Tuesday morning.
”As an African Guyanese in the PPP/C leadership, I think it’s important to speak out on issues that concern all of our people. What transpired is not an example of a peaceful protest and is most definitely not representative of how African Guyanese behave in Guyana,” said the PM.
But Dr. David Hinds, political scientist and villager of Buxton ECD said, Not So Fast! “The Prime Minister now wants to make claims to his African-ness, but where was he all the time and why doesn’t he tell his government to treat Black people with respect? When he does that and we see it happening, then and only then he can talk about African-ness. You cannot treat people like second class citizens, ignore their cries and pains for justice, then want to tell them to be quiet. He who feels it knows.”
Vehemently, Dr. Hinds said he rejects the attitude of people wanting to make it be seen that violence is the preview of Black people. “I have seen Indian violence. One such was on 6th March, 2020 when innocent school children in Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice were physically attacked and injured by Indian supporters of the PPP, and the school bus they were travelling in was destroyed.”
The Tuesday protest for justice for 23-year-old Quindon Bacchus, who was allegedly shot and killed by police Kristoff DeNobrega was peaceful until a crowd got to the Mon Repos area, which is considered a PPP/C stronghold. Mayhem broke out, resulting in loss and damage to property and persons being physically assaulted. The police have since charged several persons. The marchers started at Golden Grove, walked along the villages of Haslington, Enmore, Paradise, Enterprise, Melanie, Coldingen, Bladen Hall, Strathspey, Vigilance, Friendship, Buxton, Annandale, Lusignan, to Good Hope incident free. The named villages are predominantly of African, Indian or mixed races.
Bacchus died on June 10 by multiple gunshot wounds. The Post Mortem Report, released by the Police, said he was shot five times to his back and once to his chest. Weeks hence the police are still to say whether charges will be laid against the accused. PM Phillips nor any official of the government visited Bacchus’ relatives in their heightened moment of grief. Persons- including Hinds, trade unionist Lincoln Lewis, Member of Parliament Roysdale Forde SC- have condemned the government for ignoring the family when they needed solace and assurance from government that they will act to ensure justice. Hinds said what the government should have done first they are doing last, and officials are only going into the villages because they feel their supporters have been affected by what transpired on Tuesday.
The PM called on those present at the meeting, and the wider Guyanese society, to lend their voices in condemning Tuesday’s protest, which escalated into violence. Dr. Hinds retorted that the Government needs to condemn itself for inflicting political violence on Black and poor people, some of whom are their supporters. He accused the government of treating the ordinary people with contempt.
The Prime Minister sought to use the occasion to inform the residents that the Government would ensure the family of the late Quindon Bacchus receive justice. “Time will tell if it’s another false promise in a series of false promises coming from the PPP,” said Hinds. The DPI report said a number of issues were discussed with the residents, including the rehabilitation of community centres and the implementation of the ICT programme.