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Mar 26, 2018

Ghost Town Vs G.S.U. on Mayflower

There are more boots on the ground from the police department and the Belize Defense Force, following an eruption of gun violence among rival gangs on the south side of the city. But over the weekend that didn’t bring any security or peace, instead all hell broke loose on Mayflower Street where the Gang Suppression Unit had been deployed. Gang boss Kendis Flowers was shot and killed a week ago and his funeral took place on Sunday afternoon. As mourners converged on Mayflower Street at his grandmother’s house, the GSU arrived; their sheer presence triggered a confrontation with residents that became violent and ugly, with dozens of rounds being fired in an attempt to quell an already tense and hostile situation. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

All this mother wanted for her slain grandson was for him to be buried with the dignity and respect that family and friends had afforded him in life, despite the associations he belonged to and the many choices he made.  That veneration was given to him on Sunday by mourners who attended his funeral.  During the procession, the horse-drawn casket made a ceremonial stop on Mayflower Street to release a handful of helium balloons, a short distance from where Kendis Flowers grew up as a child.  Regrettably, even in death and bereavement controversy still seems to follow him.

 

Sandra Uter

Sandra Uter, Grandmother of Deceased

“Everybody came; friends and the rest of relatives came out here after the funeral was finished.  We were interacting with each other when upon arrival of the GSU, they came in the yard, they did say nothing to anyone.  About five of them went to the back of the yard.  One, the last one that came in the gate… I was standing in front of, by that post, me, my grandson and a young man.  While standing there, the last one that came in went to the young man, grabbed him in his shirt and said, “You cohn yah!”  So he said, ‘Fu what?”  “Fu what?”  Dehn noh have no reason why dehn di ker ahn.  Dehn noh sih nobody or nothing outta di way eena di yard, everybody interacted with each other pertaining to the funeral.”

 

That nonviolent engagement among funeral-goers was disrupted when a team of officers attached to the Gang Suppression Unit descended on Sandra Uter’s property.

 

Kendis Flowers

Sandra Uter

“When dehn buckle ahn, people staat to rebel why dehn di ker di young man and nobody noh di do nothing outta di way.  And dah soh mi niece, mi grandkids and dehn, dehn staat to rail up and staat to curse dehn.”

 

The heated exchange led to an all-out confrontation with rocks and other missiles being thrown at the policemen.

 

Karl Wellington

Karl Wellington, Stepfather of Deceased

“The GSU came in, we were mourning, they wanted to disrupt our mourning, they wanted to take somebody away and the neighborhood stood up for that young man because it was uncalled for.  So all we were doing is just taking up for a member of the community.  We weren’t inciting any violence.  Them GSU could have gotten killed right inside this yard, yeah.  They could’ve gotten killed right in this yard.  None of the GSU got hurt or anything, you understand.  All we were doing was protecting our fellow man from the neighborhood.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now, the videos of this incident have gone viral on social media in terms of the number of shots being fired and people running for cover.”

 

Sandra Uter

“That’s by the police.  That’s by the police.  They were the ones firing the shots.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Can you, as an elder in this community, describe what you saw at that point?”

 

Sandra Uter

“Well weh I sih, all from me had was to take cover.  My grandkids dehn haul me down pan di floor, ker me upstairs and haul me down pan di floor because ih really mi outta hand, the amount of shots that were being fired.”

 

Howell Gillett

According to Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett, residents broke the law when they decided on their own to discharge weapons in honor of the fallen gang leader.  He says, despite the community’s disdain for the GSU, they had authority to enter the neighborhood.

 

Sr. Supt Howell Gillett, O.C., Eastern Division South

“Whether the GSU should have been used, the allegation was, which has now proven that the officer they were blaming for the individual’s death, and I want to offer our sympathies to the families and to all the families who have been affected by crime in recent time, the police has an authority to go in because there was just cause.  The information was that they were shooting guns similar to what we do at a state funeral where there is a twenty-one gun salute whether it’s with a license gun or not.  It’s a crime whether it’s with a license gun or not.  The law is very clear.  It says, no gun should be fired within a hundred yards of a built up area.”

 

At the heart of the anarchy that unfolded after the funeral is Deputy Commissioner of Police Chester Williams.  He admittedly deployed the GSU into the area.  Needless to say Ghost Town is not at all happy with the senior officer.

 

Karl Wellington

“So we are not happy right now with the GSU.  We have lost confidence with Mr. Chester Williams who them young guys had confidence in two years ago.  Nothing happened in Ghost Town for two whole years, no incident concerning them guys.  Them guys were going to school, them guys had a program that they were going to each day.  You don’t have gangsters going to programs, but they decided to lay it down and relax and tried to take a different step of life.  The prime minister and the Minister of [National] Security changed that whole program.  Now they want to come back and try to get it like it was before.  Them guys have no confidence in the police system no more.”

 

For Uter, she simply wanted a proper sendoff for her grandson, a funeral free of the gun violence that took him away

 

Sandra Uter

“Whatever they did is unjustifiable to me and there is nothing they can say or do to repair the damage that has been done yesterday.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“I gather [that] as a grandmother or parent you just wanted to send off your grandson in the best possible way, completely far from the violence that has befallen the family.”

 

Sandra Uter

“Exactly.  That’s what I wanted to do.  We all wanted that for him because I spoke to each of the guys and told them, let us sit down, talk to each other and move on from there.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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