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Sep 5, 2018

State of Public Emergency Declared in Southside Belize City

Two gang infested areas in the south side of Belize City are under state of emergency following a murderous weekend in which six persons were killed mostly due to gang rivalry.  The areas encompass George and Banak Streets where gang rivalry has escalated among the two groups.  The operations began as soon as a statutory instrument was signed by the Governor General.  Between Tuesday night and this morning, one hundred persons were detained in the south side of the city.  This morning, the Minister of National Security, John Saldivar, sat at the head table along with C.E.O. George Lovell and Acting Commissioner of Police Chester Williams when the announcement was made that measures were being put in place to tackle to the escalation of gun violence in anticipation of the national celebrations. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Two of five previously identified hotspots on south side Belize City are tonight the subject of a state of public emergency, declared through a statutory instrument signed by the Governor General of Belize on Tuesday. The specified areas from the corner of Orange Street and West Canal to Racecourse Street by its corner with East Collet Canal and the corner of Vernon Street and Central American Boulevard through to South Creek and Fairweather Street. These are considered territories controlled by George Street and the Banak/Mayflower gangs, which police say are at war.

 

(Ret’d) Colonel George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

(Ret'd) Colonel George Lovell

“In March of this year, we had had a situation where it was deemed necessary for the Belize Defense Force to have been brought back into the streets to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order. It was a situation at the time that we had contemplated to have some areas declared as emergency areas, special areas, but we had taken a conscious decision to put that state of emergency in abeyance until we had seen it necessary for us to invoke that condition.”

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Acting ComPol

“For the past couple of months, we have been in constant dialogue with the different gang groups across south side Belize City; those dialogues have yield some very positive results in some areas, while some areas seemingly want to believe that they can hold the rest of the city hostage. And as the police, who are tasked by law, to ensure the safety of all, we cannot continue to dialogue with people who do not want to listen. Some people seemingly learn different from others and so it is now necessary for us to be able to move to another level where we can let those persons who are adamant about creating havoc in our society understand that the police is here to do a job and that job will be done at any cost to ensure the safety and security of our law abiding citizens.”

 

The measures imposed follow a most murderous weekend in which six persons were victims of gun violence; five of which are said to have been motivated by the ongoing gang war in the Old Capital. Acting Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, who is in charge of national operations, says that despite mitigation with the rivalling gangs, the bloodshed did not let up over the weekend.

 

Chester Williams

“Last week Friday we had the murder of Shakedi Humes which took place near the Matron Roberts Clinic in Belize City. Following that murder, there were two other murders that night. We brought in the guys who were involved from George Street and Banak. We sat with them, got intervention with them and they were released Saturday in the evening and they promised that they will be holding the peace. Lo and behold as they were released from custody, two other persons were killed immediately thereafter. To me that shows outright disrespect to the police and the public. We have also talked enough with them and we need to be able to make them understand that the time for talking is done where they are concerned, unless they intend to really and truly change the way they do things.”

 

The provisions of Statutory Instrument number forty-nine of 2018 gives the police and other agencies the authority to incarcerate gang members and their affiliates from these two areas for thirty days, without them having been charged for any crime. In the wake of the declaration on Tuesday, over a hundred persons have been rounded up and will soon be taken to the Central Prison where they will be locked down until October.

 

Chester Williams

“In the first instance, we intend to incarcerate these individuals for one month. If at the expiration of that one-month period, they have shown no signs of improvement or that they want to behave themselves, then we intend to take it further.”

 

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

John Saldivar

“Under the emergency powers granted under the constitution, if we should wish to have an extension of this thirty-day period we will have to take the matter to the House of Representative and I as the minister do intend to do so if the circumstances do so warrant.”

 

According to the Ministry of National Security, this is a last resort in anticipation of mass events during September celebration to allay any fears among the citizenry.

 

(Ret’d) Colonel George Lovell

“The fact that the type of incidents that we’ve seen over the past week or so, it is absolutely necessary for us to arrest the situation and to do so before it gets out of control and we have to go back to that state where we were in March of this year. This, that we are doing, hopefully will allow the police department without any additional resources and additional support from sister agencies to be able to go in there and arrest the situation in those areas that have be named.”

Chester Williams

“The activities of these two groups have many Belizeans, who are law-abiding, who want to be out enjoying our history, be in fear of even wanting to come out of their home; that is unacceptable. As we go through the festive month, we want to ensure that we make Belize, particularly Belize City, which is the centre of the activities for September, peaceful that all persons can move around freely without being in fear that they will be hurt and even killed.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “State of Public Emergency Declared in Southside Belize City”

  1. El tio says:

    Da when dem start kill police every body wah wake up.

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