Tertiary level students march across Belize City for Peace
Last week, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced the introduction of tough new anti-crime laws. But the violence and lawlessness continue unabated and criminals roam and kill with relative ease. So today while a peace march was not huge in numbers, the message from the University of Belize students was loud and clear…. they want an end to violence. With the murder count at an all time high of thirty-seven, the students were joined by other organizations and families of victims of violence as they made their way from the UB campus on West Landivar to the Battlefield Park in the downtown area. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
Over a hundred and fifty students of the University of Belize marched with placards and banners with poignant messages calling for an end to the crime and violence that is taking over the country, particularly, here in the streets of the city. While crime is a national issue, the students of U.B. felt the need to take up this initiative on their own.
Shawn Pollard, U.B., Belize City
“Actually U.B. took up this initiative to give students and young people to voice our opinion. Crime is a big issue in country and as students and young people, this is our first step to say we are fed up of it and we’re trying to put our input in it. So this is just a first.”
“Do you think that you achieved what you set out to do here today?”
Jenelle Griffiths, U.B., Belmopan
“What we came out to do, is just to show the community that we care about what is happening, but it is not finished until the community hears what we have to say and we act upon it as a group, as a family together, because once the crime starts it affects all of us.”
And to show that crime affects all, other organizations joined hands with the UB students this morning:
Delon Vernon, Youth for the Future
“Well we work with the V.R.U. program, that is the Violence Reduction Unit, and um we are working with other organizations to increase the peace and get rid of the violence that is happening in the streets.”
Moses Sulph, President, COLA
“I’m out here in support of trying to see how we can quell the violence that’s going on and the crime. However, I believe that the violence is just an offspring of poverty and unemployment and lack of access to education. But, ah at the same time in an effort of what we can do to support the stance against crime then that is what we should do as a nation.”
Chloe Daly, Ms. SJCJC 2011
“That crime is not the way to solve any problem; I just believe that if we have a problem with anything, we should try solve it, but not through crime with killing our brothers and sisters.”
But for some of the demonstrators today, it was more than a national issue because gun violence has hit close too close to home and nothing has been done about it:
Bernadine Cattouse, Lost Daughter to Gun Violence
“I deh out yah rite now cause I done lose wah daughta by gun violence and I wah mek deh stop it cause I have more children and I nuh wah lose no mo’.”
“Suh dis dah like wah personal thing fi yu?”
“Yes, wah personal thing, suh I wah deh put down the gun and stop the violence.”
Dawn Baiza, Lost Son to Gun Violence
“Deh kill my son. September eighth will make three years. It’s personal for me because I haven’t gotten any justice for it, nothing, nothing at all.”
And while people are asking for justice, many Belizeans said that there are things can be done to help in the fight against crime.
Farron Loriano, U.B. Jaguars Team
“A Judicial system would be much better because the penalties for the crime too low, they need to get serious about it.”
Yolanda Schakron, Belizeans for Justice
“We believe that yuh have to get to the root ah di problem, you have to clean up the corruption in the police department and you have to deal with it in a very conscientious way. You have to talk to the Belizean people we want to see a different way because right now Belizeans are living in terror.”
Selwyn King, Public Information Officer, U.B.
“A number of years ago we had a crime symposium held at the U.B. and in terms of that symposium and its outcomes maybe we need to revisit that and see how best the university can play a significant and critical role within this issue of crime reduction.”
To help in that crime reduction is Belizean Artist, Aaron Casanvova, a former “street bwai”, who knows about crime and violence all too well:
Aaron Casanova, Artist
“I drop outta school, I run come out yah I get shot eight times, I been to Jail like nine different times. It nuh mek no sense, out yah nuh got nothing but yuh education and think ‘bout wah future. When will the ghetto youth put down the glock cause down eena Belize come like down eena Iraq? Mi seh put down the gun and the violence, who nuh deh ah dead house get a jail sentence.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.