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May 31, 2002

Police meet with gang members to curb violence

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Belize City residents are still reeling from a series of shootouts earlier this week that left three young men dead. The surge of violence prompted the Belize Police Department to sit down on Thursday night in a roundtable discussion with those familiar with gang activities to try and come up with solutions. According to police press officer G. Michael Reid, information shared will prove useful in the future.

G. Michael Reid, Police Press Officer

“It’s a meeting that not the first of its kind. Mr. Jeffries has done this before. It’s an initiative on his part to try to get all the people in the streets who we believe are at war with each other to come together and communicate and try to get their opinions and to listen to some reasoning. What we hope came from it is that they understand that the police are not going to stand by and let the killing go on. We certainly are not gonna let them go out there and control the streets on terrorise…”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Contrary to what some people are saying?”

G. Michael Reid

“Contrary indeed. There is a sentiment out there that suggests that maybe we should just leave them, let them kill each other out. We cannot do that and we certainly do not share that view because you never know when a person can rehabilitate. There are many citizens today who are productive citizens, who at one time were maybe in the same situation these guys are. So we certainly cannot write anybody off as such, and this is the reasoning behind all of this, trying to get them together and let them understand, look, we haven’t given up on you guys, we believe that there is hope, we believe that you guys can come out and be productive citizens, but it’s not going to be done if you continue to engage in all the hostilities towards one another.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Who were some of the people at the meeting and what were some of the sentiments expressed?”

G. Michael Reid

“Well I certainly don’t want to call any names here. We had…I believe it’s close to thirty people and for the most part they did a lot of listening. We had at present there, Mr. Nuri Muhammad, who you now know is with the Youth for the Future programme. He gave a very spirited lecture to the guys, and I think what we need is for more people to take advantage of the opportunity to speak to these young people.”

Another meeting is planned for next week.

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