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August 5, 2014

BML workers arrested over protest

Albert Vaughan

Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014. 4:54 pm CST.

BML worker

BML worker

Tuesday, August 5, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: As we reported on Monday, 43 employees of Belize Maintenance Limited (BML), plus activist Delroy Herrera, were held for more than 7 hours in the original “pisshouse”, Queen Street Police Station, for their roles in Monday’s spontaneous demonstration in front of City Hall.

They were each charged for taking part in an unlawful public meeting, contrary to the Public Meeting (Control) Regulations, and a littering violation which will cost them $500 each, and are expected to appear in court later today.

Delroy Herrera

Delroy Herrera

Around seven Monday evening Herrera, the last to be released, spoke to reporters and told them he has no regrets, even saying that if necessary they would continue this action until the matter is settled.

He insisted that the demonstration had been “spontaneous” and was not intended to cause disruption, merely to present the human face of the sanitation conundrum.

According to Herrera, the group was “set up” by second-in-command of Eastern Division Senior Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster, who trapped them in a blockade on Queen Street and herded them into the station for processing.

But two prominent attorneys who were sympathetic to the demonstrators believed this was not necessary.

Senior Counsel Said Musa registered his outrage at the “totally unacceptable” state of affairs which saw women locked up, some of whom have persistent medical conditions, and who reportedly fainted and suffered without their medication.

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Audrey Matura Shepherd

And Audrey Matura Shepherd, who is also president of the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU), noted that instead of breaking down the workers, Monday’s experience will only bond them further to each other.

She says that if the issue is not taken care of by the City Council, “bigger problems” will ensue as these represent a section of society that, according to her, has long been downtrodden and is on the verge of explosion.

The public meeting violation is a summary offence to be tried in the Magistrate’s Court, while the littering violation goes before the Municipal Court, an arm of the Belize City Council.

Exiting detained workers gave unedited and raw reactions, generally insisting that they should not have been held for speaking up for their rights and demanding audience with the Mayor to get the matter settled expeditiously.

Albert Vaughan

Albert Vaughan

Meanwhile, Albert Vaughan, who is the chairman of the Freetown Constituency Committee for the People’s United Party (PUP) and co-host of Vibes Radio’s morning talk show, was detained while covering Monday’s protest for PUP organs Vibes Radio and the Belize Times.

He apparently ran afoul of police who hauled him to the Queen Street Police Station where he was given the rare charge of loitering in a public place.

He was released on police bail in the afternoon.

Vaughan told us he has no idea why he was arrested, but said he prefers to keep the spotlight on the plight of the BML workers and added his own plea for the Mayor to settle the issue.

Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca

Vaughan’s boss and PUP leader Francis Fonseca did not take too kindly to one of his operatives being jailed.

We spoke to him outside the Police Station and he said that “touch one, touch all,” and that the PUP is in full solidarity with the BML workers on this issue.

Both he and Vaughan believe the police received “instructions” from higher up to make the mass arrest.

Vaughan was forced to give up his equipment which was reportedly searched by Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster. will appear in court later this week.

 

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