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May 15, 2020

ComPol says Guinea Grass Police Officer Acted within his Rights!

While there has been a relaxation of the State of Emergency restrictions, several measures are still in place for public health and safety reasons. The use of face of mask is one of those measures that remain firmly in place. As we reported on Thursday, the only time members of the public are allowed to be without a mask on is when they are exercising – otherwise you should keep your masks on once you are in a public place or space. But there are some who are still opposing this law – as we saw in a video being widely shared on social media. It’s an incident involving residents in Guinea Grass. We have more in the following story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The two men without masks in this video are residents in Guinea Grass village in Orange Walk. The man with the camouflage pants is a police officer who is attempting to detain the resident in Blue shirt who was riding his bike without a mask when the police met him on the road in a village. In this video recording, a woman is heard asking in Spanish why the cop is taking away the man in the blue shirt. The cop says that he’s being arrested for not wearing a mask while being on a public road and points out that the man is resisting arrest. And that’s when the woman and the second man without a mask got into a heated verbal exchange with the officer – pointing out that others, including the officer’s relatives, haven’t been wearing a mask in public. And the man in the blue shirt can be heard asking the police to let him go.

 

Man [Translated]

“Let me go, mien. Let me go.”

 

Police Officer

“Just walk with me to the police station and we will sort it out there.”

 

Man #2

“Well, you don’t have to be holding a boy like that.”

 

Police Officer

“He doesn’t want to go with me.”

 

The verbal exchange escalated from there with profanities – as the other man identifies the young man in blue as his son. He tells the officer that he doesn’t like the way his son is being treated. The cop then pulls the son away and that is when the father approached the cop and appears to swing at him and grab his son out of the police’s reach. And that’s when the cop pulled out his weapon. The family expressed their displeasure about this move in the video. Today Commissioner of Police Chester Williams weighed in on what happened – he says the officer acted within his rights.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“As a society, we must stop condone stupidity. I watched the video and the police made an arrest, a lawful arrest. The young man didn’t have a mask on. The police made the arrest and the father didn’t have a mask on. We heard a woman in the background, I believe is the mother, she was shouting a whole lot of things to the police. The police was very calm in explaining things to them about what law they have breached and wanted to take them to the police station and they refused to go. You see clearly in the video when the father went around as if he wanted to attack the police and that is when the officer took out his gun and he has all right to take out his gun. He must not wait until he is tackled by the son, father and maybe the mother until when he tries to defend himself and it would be too late.”

 

The wearing of a face mask in public is mandatory by law. It came into effect on May 1st. The law states that for the purposes of preventing, controlling, containing and suppressing the spread of the infectious disease COVID-19, ‘every person in a public place, public space or public office or building shall wear a face mask or other face (mouth) covering.’ AG Michael Peyrefitte made this announcement on April 30th on the Ask the Experts webcast.

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General [File: April 30th, 2020]

“If I say nothing else I say this, for the next two months everybody who is in public, everybody who, if you leave your house you must left your house with a mask on. You will not be allowed to be on the streets or walk in any approve business if you don’t have a mask on. So if you don’t have a mask on and you are on the streets you will be committing an offence. Ladies and gentlemen because we are freeing up it a little bit more it now a requirement for every soul in this country when you leave your house you must wear a mask.”

 

And according to Commissioner of Police, that law must not be breached by anyone. And so in this case, the two men without a face mask in the video will be charged. The woman who doesn’t appear on camera will also face a separate charge.

 

Chester Williams

“I have directed the police to charge the father and son for failure to wearing the mask and resisting arrest and the mother will be charged for obstruction, that’s it.  The law relating to the COVID19 is a very serious one. It was put in place to ensure the protection of all of us. If the officer sees an infraction, it is his duty to make right on that infraction and if he chooses to speak to someone about it, then I don’t have an issue. I have said though, while certain discretion can be exercised, we cannot be too discretionary because no one is going to take us seriously and nobody will want to obey the law and we will go right back to where we were. The officer was in his right and I stand behind him one hundred and ten percent.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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