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Oct 3, 2016

Police Move to Protect B.N.T.U. Leaders – But They Thought It Was Intimidation

Our first interview with B.N.T.U. President Luke Palacio took place this morning, just before nine a.m., as he and B.N.T.U. executive secretary Keisha Young left from an appearance on the Wake Up Belize Morning Vibes show. Shortly after that, it came to the attention of show host and vocal B.N.T.U. supporter Evan “Mose” Hyde that several police officers had been deployed outside the Kremandala compound on Partridge Street. Hyde openly questioned on-air the reason for the officers’ presence. He even suggested that the Government wanted them there as an attempt at intimidation. By that time several well-known unionists including B.N.T.U. Belize branch president Kathleen Flowers; Senator Elena Smith and Adelaida Guerra were present, as well as activists Geovannie Brackett of C.O.L.A. and Raymond Rivers among others. But the mystery was solved when Assistant Commissioner of Police and Regional Commander for Eastern Division South, Chester Williams, arrived on scene to explain. We hear from Williams and Palacio.

 

Chester Williams

ACP Chester Williams, Regional Commander, Eastern Division South

“Like I have said to Mr. Luke and his teachers, that the Police are not out here to intimidate or to disrupt the teachers in any way. We respect the work that teachers do in our country on a daily basis. We knew that they would be on KREM; we knew they would have congregated here on Partridge Street; and so to be proactive, I sent four police officers out here to ensure the safety of our teachers as they congregate to go to whatever destination they may choose to go hereafter. As it relates to those in the schools, there are still teachers who are at the schools teaching, and we don’t want anyone to go after them as well, as they go about their daily business to do what they want to do. So we are just basically ensuring the safety of our teachers.”

 

Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.

“If the police officers he had out here had come up to us to say, ‘We have come out here for your protection,’ I think the reaction would have been different. But they just stood guard, as if though – ‘hey, we deh out yah fu deal wid unu if anything happen’ – not saying to us, we are out here to protect you. So I agree with the sentiments being expressed; we are glad that the officer in charge, Officer Williams, has cleared the air to that extent, and we trust that that will be the spirit going forward, because indeed, we are not about destroying the country; contrary to what the Prime Minister said, we are not on a destructive crusade. We are standing up for this country and we will continue to do so, because we believe it is the best thing for our country.”

 

According to Williams, he had tried without success to call in to explain the situation, but he did post a status update on his Facebook page. The crowd dispersed without incident shortly afterward.

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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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