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Jun 26, 2017

Frustrated Residents Set Tire Fire, Warned by Police

Teakettle residents whom we spoke with today still showed traces of fear and frustration on their faces. That boiled over on Saturday, when about twenty disgruntled residents, fed up with what they felt was slow police response to the Markie Mendez missing person case, took action. They set tires across the George Price Highway in front of the village cemetery and set them afire, causing up to an hour’s delay for travellers in the area. No one would own up to it when we questioned them today. But police say that sort of behaviour is not permissible even if, as Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett agrees, they do have the right to protest.

 

Howell Gillett

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett, O.C., Belmopan Police

“It was about one p.m. on Saturday when we got a call that there were tires being laced on the highway and they were being lit. We responded by having the Fire Service accompany us and we had our operational units respond at the same time. On our arrival we observed some twenty disgruntled people and we were able to out the tires and then remove the debris from the area. We were able to quell whatever. I think it was a communication problem: because they thought that more could have been done from a law enforcement standpoint in terms of searching for the person in the river, but when the truth of the information came out I believe they now think differently. But yes it was an incident; it caused inconvenience and we have to think of that, that there were other road users who needed the highway at the same time. So it is in this light that we say we must address that part of it; but that is the lesser task at this moment. We will try to solve the missing person and following that we will deal with those who were responsible for lighting the tires on the highway. But for sure the message we want to send to the public is that yes, you have a right to protest, and we respect that; but do it in a civil way, don’t cause harm to others. By blocking the highway, anybody could have been on the highway who needed the highway urgently and that was disrupted for a half-hour to forty-five minutes on Saturday.”

 

Police denied using tear gas to break up the crowd as alleged in some quarters.

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