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Jun 22, 2020

Berry Street Families Recount an Encounter with GSU Officers on Father’s Day

A Father’s day celebration on Sunday did not end well for two families on Berry Street, Belize City. A number of family members had converged at the house of the Yorke family patriarch when the GSU stormed the residence.  Family members are not certain what triggered the alleged GSU assault, but from there, the Unit moved to the nearby Neal family house. The Neals claim they were also assaulted and then a pair of brothers was taken in for charges. News Five’s Duane Moody caught up with the families today and files the following report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Yorke and Neal families on Berry Street in the Lake Independence area of Belize City are up in arms tonight, claiming that members of the Gang Suppression Unit used excessive force on them and interrupted their Father’s Day celebration on Sunday. They claim that the officers fired a number of bullets from shotguns and nine millimetre weapons – and they had videos and the expended shell, as well as a handcuff, to corroborate their story.  A pair of siblings were also placed in the pan of a police pickup truck and carted away.  Janet Arnold, lives in Hattieville, but says she and her family travelled to the city to celebrate with her dad.

 

Janet Arnold

Janet Arnold, Resident

“We noticed police di traffic up and down, which in they were two parties on the Berry Street area. But it seems that they were only targeting this yard. They told one of the persons outside that they need to come outside; only way dehn fid eh out deh dah if dehn have on a mask.  All of we come in along with ahn. Noh curfew yet; this is ina di evening about six o’clock, when dehn started their patrol. Dehn come, park up front yah and start wah whole ballyhoo; first person I identify dah mi nephew—yo know who you are from Hattieville ina GSU—and I tell ahn nephew only you I wah let ina di yard. The rest have to stay out there cause dah noh curfew yet and we noh di shet down we event because dah noh curfew yet. By the time I tell ahn nephew I noh want di rest in, when I listen, he open the gate—he knock the rest and when he knock the rest, the rest pour in and bomb rush everybody.”

 

Confused, Arnold says she could not understand what triggered the incident. Her sister, Asha Yorke, however, believes that documenting the activity of the officers earlier that night on video may have caused the aggression by the GSU officers.

 

Janet Arnold

“By the time I listen, one of dehn tell ahn, wah big red one tell ahn, make we ker she. When I notice it is my sister and so I run over by mi pa vehicle and I say, “No, no, no, not my sister.” And I run over to my sister and I grab her from back on and I said, “No, dah mi sister.” I had to hold mi sister.”

 

Asha Yorke

Asha Yorke, Resident

“The reason dehn why dehn want ker me cause from I deh dah di gate, I have video with them cause I tell dehn what dah di problem. We ina wi yard and dah noh curfew yet.  Ih say noh make I video he before he get vex. I say. But I can video you if I want. Why would you get vex if I am asking you what is the problem? Unu have no reason fi deh yah. Dehn pour in and grab mi pa ina ih neck and shake up ahn. Pepper spray—all the pickney dehn get burn up, pepper spray everybody. One reach ina di house and all; and dah mi only 9:48—I have the video—dah mi 9:48; it wasn’t ten o’clock.”

 

Minutes after the officers left the Yorke’s residence, they went next door to the Neal’s. David McCauley Junior and Evan Neal, one of whom is in a relationship with Yorke, were taken into custody, pending charges of disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer. The siblings’ mother, Muriel Neal, says she was thrown to the ground by one of the officers.

 

Muriel Neal

Muriel Neal, Mother of Detainees

“We gone look by the gate and the police come up ina ih face and ask ahn if he want something too. He tell ahn boss unu doen pepper spray me and then dehn start to punch up my son. And I try explain to them that we di pikc up the bottles in fi we yard to put them up. And I gwen along with my son and one of them shub me down out deh. Really rough dehn up; I noh know why dehn come like that.”

 

Asha Yorke

“Disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer and I noh understand cause my bwai neva did assault no police officer. Then dehn got di heart fi say that we burst shot atta dehn first and dah lie because we have video. No shot get burst from here; all di shots go burst from when dehn come yah. It was from the police. Dah noh only we have video, the whole neighbourhood; the neighbours have video ah weh happen.”

 

Earlier this morning, a report could not be lodged with the Professional Standards Branch in Belize City. Janet Arnold says that they are law-abiding citizens and never expected that the officers would have used such force on them.

 

Janet Arnold

“Later on when I look, mi nephew, ih spray mi with pepper spray. The only thing I mi need dah wah whole icebox to sit down ina cause di pepper spray mi di get to me. Later on ina di night, when we notice about 9:45, dehn come; my bralee ina ih yard and when we listen, shots start to bust. Like thirty shots burst last night—thirty from their rifle. When dehn done do all dehn thing dehn come back come pick up some of dehn shell—neva know dah we already pick up some of the shell.  Den deh dah di bullets right there weh wi pick up. I noh understand. Mien I always sit down ina mi house and realize people out yah get chance. Neva know it woulda mi come dah my door. I come way dah Hattieville fi have a function. Why dehn have to chance black people?”

 

Muriel Neal

“I neva think police. I always see it pan di thing, but I neva know ih mi wah come right yah with me ina my yard.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


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