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Jan 23, 2023

Youth for Change Symposium Discusses Laddie’s Law

On Saturday at the Radisson, a Youth for Change Symposium was successfully organized by the Justice for Laddie Foundation. Family and friends, as well as persons concerned about killings at the hands of law enforcement officers, gathered for the forum. There was space provided for persons to express their grief and to determine the way forward as the foundation embarks on advocating for amendments to the law as it relates to holding police officers accountable for their actions. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It’s been roughly eighteen months since fourteen-year-old Laddie Gillett was shot dead by former Police Corporal Kareem Martinez. But the emotions stemming from the manner in which the minor was killed are still very real for his family and friends who were in attendance at a Youth for Change Symposium held over the weekend in Belize City.


Lucy Fleming

Lucy Fleming, Grandmother of Laddie Gillett

“The family wanted to do something, put something together so that Laddie would not be forgotten and so that his life would not be in vain. And even though we talk about Justice for Laddie, we mean justice for all our Laddies, and all Belizeans everywhere.”


Sharon Meighan

Sharon Meighan, Aunt of Laddie Gillett

“We’ve just been sitting back and having the people in authorities doing things over and over again and it is not acceptable by the population of Belize and I feel that now is the time for the youth and for people to get together and speak and know that it has to stop somewhere. The government needs to be held accountable and so I believe that the Justice for Laddie Foundation is one way of showing that we are serious about what we are doing.”


The foundation was formed in the wake of the minor’s death and has since successfully executed several initiatives in Laddie’s honor.


Lucy Fleming

“We achieved two of our accomplishments. One was our memorial garden down in Placencia where he died which was a very sad, sad place and now has become a peaceful place where people go and relax and enjoy. So we were able to do that. We took a defunct playground at Saint Andrews. We redid that playground, put up a mural for Laddie, so we were able to achieve that. And then the symposium was the third of our measures that we wanted to get done before his court case.”


The symposium was organized within a week of the family becoming aware that the manslaughter trial for Martinez commences on January twenty-seventh in Dangriga. The family is seeking justice for Laddie, but they also want to ensure that what happened to him does not reoccur at the hands of law enforcement. That is giving birth to Laddie’s Law – a document suggesting amendments to the law in terms of processes to ensure accountability.


Demoi’s Williams

Demoi’s Williams, Director, Justice for Laddie Foundation

“Today was step one in what we desire to be a series of conversations because we want to ensure that this never happens again. So we had a very open discussion about the Laddie’s Law. These are points that the foundation has put forward to ensure what we believe would have been necessary to ensure that it doesn’t happen, but also to get consultation from persons who can offer different perspectives, who are policy writers, they are in the department themselves so they can speak to different things that happen – all in a collaborative community effort to really seek justice not just for Laddie, but any other Laddie that would come after. As we engaged in this discussion, we could feel that sense of frustration from all the youths in the room because our system is very much broken. And because the system is broken, accountability becomes almost non-existent – let’s be very real about it. And in Laddie’s case, you have the state being accountable to itself. This wasn’t a lone gunman. This was an actual officer of the police department – somebody who was supposed to be protecting and serving the community. So all eyes are on this because we want to ensure that you actually hold yourself to what you put into the laws.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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