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Aug 5, 2014

Over Forty Sanitation Workers Arraigned for Loitering and Littering Following Protest

There is a lot to report tonight from the court, including the all-day arraignment of forty-one BML sanitation workers and a near confrontation between those workers and Mayor Darrell Bradley. The workers were in court to be formally charged with loitering, littering and taking part in an unlawful public meeting – charges which stem from an unscheduled garbage drop-off in front of City Hall on Monday. BML has not been paid for nineteen weeks, and announced to workers that it will go into austerity mode…meaning layoffs. So the workers threw garbage in front of City Hall to send a message. The Mayor apparently received that message, and is sending one right back. The workers were locked down in a holding cell all day Monday, issued with tickets of five hundred dollars each and summoned to court. As we said, it was an all day affair and Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

At nine this morning, forty-one BML sanitation workers stood waiting to be arraigned. They were charged jointly for littering, loitering and taking part in an unlawful public meeting…and also issued with a ticket for five hundred dollars which they must pay within fifteen days. At eleven o’clock, they were still waiting for their scheduled appearance in court, along with attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd,  Attorney for Sanitation Workers

Audrey Matura Shepherd

“The reason they are taking so long is because they don’t have a courtroom big enough to put everybody. One…and two, the Police, advised by somebody in their wisdom, had advised that instead of putting everybody on one sheet, they will split it up. So right now the Police is at Queen Street Police Station preparing new charge sheets to give you. So we will be out here a long time because they have forty-one charge sheets to prepare. Then they will come and serve it to you again, then they will have to lodge it, then we will go to court and even the bail process will take long. So if you all have something to do, children to take care of, quickly do it and come back because this will be all day.”

 

The mood was dark, to say the least, because these workers – men and women – spent all day in lock-down yesterday. They were detained for twelve hours until their bail could be secured.

 

Faith Flores

Faith Flores, Sanitation Worker

“I was ill-treated there…I was sick with asthma and they left us there in that cell, twenty-two of us…no lights, no fan, no nothing.”

 

Helen Samuels, Sanitation Worker

“We get lock down da piss house from yesterday…from nine o’clock yesterday till nine o’clock last night…some of we gat asthma, we pressure raise, dey one deh look fu faint weh inna the cell, we vomit up…weh wrong with dey people. Da soh they wah handle the poor people deh? They can’t handle we soh. We da poor people. Yu hafto look out fu the poor people.”

 

And those poor people are looking out for their jobs. BML has been forced to go to skeleton staff mode because City Hall owes them nineteen weeks of payments – about one point five million dollars.

 

Rudolph Gamboa, Sanitation Worker

Rudolph Gamboa

“Me gat light bill and wata bill fu pay…thank God I noh pay house rent. I have my own house. All dey things hurt me right now. But I deh think bout the single mothers dem. Dey wah tek mo lik dan me.”

 

Glenford Bowen

Glenford Bowen, Sanitation Worker

“Woman, pikni, everybody…if we noh have no job we can’t eat. We can’t mind our home, we can’t mind our family, we can’t pay light bill, we can’t pay water bill, we can’t pay nothing…how we wah pay? How we wah survive?”

 

Helen Samuels

Helen Samuels

“I wah the Mayor know that all a we come from City Council. I wah e know that we sweep drain, we dig drain, we pick up paper and we do everything wah man fu do. And he can’t just come in and close down fu we contract just like that…because he no even know nothing bout weh deh go on out ya.”

 

At two this afternoon the workers were still assembled outside, still waiting for arraignment – with a little vocal encouragement from Bullet who had a simple message – drop the charges and pay! At two thirty a Police Officer finally started calling out the names of workers to go into court – but the Police somehow forgot to issue the workers with their new charge sheets.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“At two o’clock I called again and they said that they have only completed twenty-two charge sheets, I said no problem we will do the twenty-two. However, when we came and they started the arraignment process I realized they never brought new charge sheets, they did new court books which are different. My clients cannot be charged under the old charge sheet if they want to split up the charges, if they do the old charge sheet everybody has to be in the same room, but that’s not what they want to do. Somewhere along the line they faulted and did not create the new charge sheets or they created it and left it at the police station so we are here waiting for it. Right now all the gentlemen and women are being placed in different court rooms so we have Anthony Sylvester assisting and Kareem Musa assisting and myself because I can’t be in three courtrooms at the same time.”

At three thirty the charge sheets finally arrived and the workers were split up into three different courtrooms to be processed. By four o’clock, less than half of them had been charged in court.

 

Mitchell Danderson, Operations Manager, BML

Mitchell Danderson

“The latest is that they have already read charges for twelve of the employees and they are about to do for ten more I think they want to do at least twenty-two for today and they will leave the rest for tomorrow. Well we are hoping that they will get bail and all the necessary paper work are done that they will be out by the end of the day. I was told that whoever is not being charged today will have to return tomorrow.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“You have to understand what’s happening here you know, these are BML workers, the longer you keep them in the system they can’t work, that means less productivity in the company, this means less work for the company, the company is losing and if they have to come back again tomorrow it’s a third day of lost for them. So you have to understand that this is a tactic to intimidate people from  not taking to the streets and it is tactic of going after a company who you clearly have a fight.”

 

As we left the courtroom today, workers were dealing with their bail arrangements, with more than half of them still waiting to be charged.

Mike Rudon reporting for News Five.

 

Later in the newscast, we’ll tell you how Mayor Darrell Bradley beat a hasty retreat from the court. 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Over Forty Sanitation Workers Arraigned for Loitering and Littering Following Protest”

  1. Rod says:

    Tell the mayor and this corrupt gov to pay your bail with the money we they the thief everyday or not stop now do it again everyday till they get the point go tha jail if you have to.

  2. steven says:

    justice is swift for the poor man…but for corrupt elected officials…there is none….shame!!!!

  3. CEO says:

    What happens in a protest and a demonstration against a government is never sanctioned by the government and there are always laws against any civil disobedience but this is the only way to force the hand of government because they will never change by their own accord.

    If the GOB has any sense they will drop these charges and find a way to pay the people. Seems like the injustice always trickle down to those that can least afford!

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