Hunt on for persons who allegedly racially profiled and abused men at Canal No. 1
Two Afro-Guyanese men received a ‘sound thrashing’ at the hands of Canal No.1 residents on Sunday evening (March 12, 2017), allegedly under the assumption that they were thieves.
Video recordings of the men subsequently became available on Facebook, evoking criticism from a broad cross-section of society.
The men in an interview with the News Room earlier today (Tuesday, March 14, 2017) said they visited the West Demerara community with a friend to “check out” a place where they were expected to have ‘a lime” on Friday (March 17, 2017). The friend in question is an officer in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) who also resides in the community.
Vernon Beckles, a construction worker of Charlotte Street and Damion Gordon, an accounts clerk of 84 Robb Street, Georgetown, said they were having drinks at their friend’s home and subsequently decided to stop at a shop in the community. Shortly after one of the men who was also at the shop claimed that his car mirror was missing, and pointed fingers at the visitors.
The Afro-Guyanese men related that they were racially profiled; attacked and severely beaten.
“We reach at the shop at 08:43, like about five minutes or so, one of the guys said their car mirror was missing, just like duh, ah mean, anyway, from that, they start accusing us, throwing slangs at us. One is ‘yual black thieves, yual come in hay fo thief we thing’ and things like duh” Gordon told News Room.
After taunting the men, 29-year-old Gordon related that one of the men began ‘chucking’ his friend. This led him to intervene after which, he said another person tackled him, and they ended up in the nearby canal where the scuffle continued.
The perpetrator also attempted to drown him. “He held my head and push it down three times, that’s when I (gave up) because I was shorta breath. Now crawling up, da is the first time he lash me in ma head with a bottle and said stay down ‘yuh black S…’, I get some like kicks in ma face, he lash and break a next bottle on me, at that time I lie down and the soldier guy raise he voice and seh ‘if anything happen to anyone, ah them is on yual’ so that is when they brought me up and put me to lie in the sand and everyone looking at ma like I is a thief,” he related.
After being abused, the man related he felt someone put a handcuff on him.
The man clarified that it is not his first visit to the village since he has a brother and two sisters living in another part of the community.
35-year-old Beckles speaking about his experience said he was met with “where the mirror deh, where the mirror deh’, ‘ahyo black man like thief, ahyo black man like thief’ when he was walking towards the shop. Beckles said he went to relieve himself. Thus he was left behind as his friends went ahead. However, as the persons approached he said “…so right away I raise up my clothes, thing down my pants, I say I is not no thief, I ain’t got nothing” but one of the males “lash me in the head with a bottle, i fell to the ground, they start beating me, beating, overboard, they start bubbling me, then drag me out the canal, a policing group come, placed the handcuff on my hand.”
What is even more alarming is that there was no car directly in front of the shop, thereby dismissing any claim of a mirror being stolen.
The 35-year-old said “the thing to, no vehicle was in front of the place where we was going to buy the drinks to wash down, so I want know which car we carry away mirror from. The only vehicle was there at the time was the GDF guy vehicle.” He said a vehicle was located some distance away, however, given the time and place where they were confronted, stealing from that vehicle was impossible.
“If wasn’t fo the police come, ah must’ve bin a dead man today,” Beckles said.
Aside from the phrases hurled at them, an observation of the two persons who were abused out a group of six, further confirmed that they were racially profiled. There were “two Indian girls, the GDF officer which is a negro, the dougla guy and the two of us” but it was only himself and friend who were abused, he recounted.
Thinking that their friend, the GDF rank, would have sought to help them, he called out to him. However, it was then that he realised his friend and spouse who is of Indian descent, was siding with the residents of the community.
The men have since declared that they could identify some of the perpetrators including the person who claimed that he lost a car mirror.
Meanwhile, the issue of dumping suspects at police stations by patrolling ranks without the proper documentation continues to occur based on account of the two gentlemen. This is not part of the standard operating procedures at police stations.
Up to late this afternoon the men were being sent back to the hospital to uplift medical certificates, another breach of protocols by the ranks. Police ranks are required to accompany the victims to uplift medical documents from health institutions or uplift it themselves.