Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2020. 1:40 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Several people were injured by police during a peaceful protest at the Port of Belize Limited (PBL), and Police Commissioner Chester Williams is not happy, describing the whole event as “regrettable.” In the aftermath of the situation Williams says that swift action will be taken to address the complaints of the persons who sustained injuries at the hands of the police.
Employees of the PBL and their supporters were on and around the compound protesting the termination of some 36 employees when members of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) showed up and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, injuring several men, including one who was shot to the head by a rubber bullet. The event played out while various media houses were live streaming from the scene.
Williams said that when he learned of the protest he instructed his officers that the protestors should be allowed to do so provided that they remain peaceful and when he learned that the GSU had been deployed to the scene, he instructed the Commander of Police Eastern Division Alden Dawson to remove them immediately.
“…in a situation as volatile as what was happening at the port I would have never made the decision to send a paramilitary unit in the area because their mere presence would have made those agitated people to think ‘you know what, here is the state enforcing its might on us,’ and it would cause them to become more agitated,” Williams said.
He went on to say he felt that if the regular uniformed officers had been allowed to contain the situation it would not have escalated. In the aftermath of the situation Williams said that he is very disappointed in the way it played out and calls on the Christian Workers Union to send anyone who was shot to the police station to make a formal complaint which will be dealt with swiftly.
“Certain elements from the GSU have been transferred because we need to send a strong signal that we are not going to have our officers go out and use force that is unnecessary against people who are dissenting peacefully,” Williams said. “Of course it is regrettable. I tried as best as I could have to communicate with the commander on the ground to have made sure that this did not reach the stage it did,” Willaims added.
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