Posted: Tuesday, May 4, 2021. 4:36 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Opposition area representative for Albert, Tracey Taegar-Panton, has written on social media about an incident involving family members in which police, she charges, jumped to conclusions and unfairly “profiled” the young men.
According to Taegar-Panton, her nephews were at an establishment when they were robbed at gunpoint. One is darker skinned and works at the establishment while the other is fair skinned and was there as a customer. The fair-skinned nephew reported the matter at the nearest police station, but officers handcuffed the darker-skinned nephew, questioned him and even threatened detention for 48 hours if he was not prepared to identify the assailants, whom he did not know, Panton disclosed.
Writes Taegar-Panton of the accused, “This law-abiding nephew of mine: working diligently to earn his keep; treated as though he was criminally responsible for something he had nothing to do with. This nephew of mine profiled because of the color of his skin. This happening on the south side of Belize City where our families are already vulnerable and marginalized being unduly targeted by the police. They who are simply trying to survive and live their lives one day at a time.”
She added, “What’s on my mind? We are on a steep gradient heading downward. Community Policing should be a philosophy not a department.”
Ultimately it does not appear that charges were filed, but Taegar-Panton says “Both my nephews have been traumatized by this experience. So not right.” She has counselled both young men to “stand strong together,” and added that the country must do better by our youngest, otherwise we will go backward down the hill rather than forward and upward.
The Department currently faces a lawsuit from two Belize City men charging racial profiling in the Supreme Court and has changed its philosophy on picture-taking of persons not immediately charged with a crime.
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