Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
Topic Options
#415329 - 09/02/11 02:18 PM Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release
Marty Offline
On Monday, bruised, battered, bellicose and bilious members of the George Street Gang went on air and inflamed the nation, making the clear suggestion that the wider, law-abiding society - right up to the Prime Minister - would be made to pay for police abuses against them.

Their unapologetic public appearance and their intimidating tone was a first - and tonight - we have another first to report: The George street Gang along with three other gangs, Supal Street, Ghost Town and Gill Street have issued a joint press release. The brief, four paragraph statement was hand delivered to our newsroom an hour ago - and to our surprise, it takes a completely different tone from Monday's menacing interviews.

Monica Bodden went to George Street to hear it for herself - where they told her it came from George Street Boss Shelton Pinky Tilllett in consultation with the other gang leaders.

One of the George street gang members read it for us - off camera:...

Voice of member of George Street
"We want to let the public know that we George Street, Supal Street, Ghost Town and Gill Street do not have any intention or retaliation the GSU or harming anyone. We plan on taking up our treatment we receive from the GSU last week Friday through the courts and only through the courts. We also want the public to understand that we will not be causing any trouble during our September celebration and have no knowledge of or possess any grenades as was alleged by this week press release. Lastly we would like for the GSU to try and come up with a way to help resolve the issue between the various areas rather than fueling the problem. Thank you."

Voice of member of George Street
"We all want people to be ok going out for the September celebrations. There is no reason why we want any problem. Actually what we want people to know like for the carnival is that a lot of the kids are a part of this carnival are our kids and we would never want any problem to happen. We would never want any of them to get hurt so we don't want the public or any of our Belizean citizens to be afraid to go out and watch the carnival or any of the September celebration. We guarantee that that's not what we want. Whatever had happen with the GSU last Friday - we will take legal action which is court action - that's the only action we as the community - George Street, Gill Street, Ghost Town or wherever they said are all the groups together - that's what we want; legal action, not any criminal action. We don't want any problem out there. We guarantee that there is nothing, none of us want any retaliation. So there is no grenade, no kind of weapon, no ammunition."

Monica Bodden
"This press release was actually agree on by all these guys?"

Voice of member of George Street
"By every single one of them. This is what came up and we wrote it and this is why I am OK to say it out loud."

So to go over the key parts of the statement again, it says, quote:

"we also want the public to understand that we will not be causing any trouble during our September Celebrations and have no knowledge of, or possess any grenades…"

It also says, quote:

(We) do not have any intentions of retaliating against the GSU or harming anyone."

Indeed, it is a remarkable change of tone - but what matters is does the society believe it enough to let down their guard for the celebrations - and will police buy it - enough to not effect a mass lockdown of all known gang players this carnival weekend? Well, it's too early to gauge public reaction, but as for the ending where the gangs offer an olive branch to the GSU, head of that unit Marco Vidal told us he had no official comment until he's had time to see and consider it.

Channel 7


Top
#415333 - 09/02/11 02:24 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

George Street Gang will fight Government in Court; not with grenades

The gangs are not known to issue statements; in fact they are known not to want to appear on camera. So we found a release they purportedly sent out today to be unusual. It comes in the aftermath of a violent shakedown by the Gang Suppression Unit against alleged members of the George Street Gang last Friday, during which a number of persons were severely injured. Government’s response was to justify the GSU highhandedness, saying that they had intelligence that the gangs had grenades they intended to use during the celebrations. Late this afternoon a statement was delivered to our newsroom from the four principal gangs of the Old Capital including George Street, Supal Street, Ghost Town and Gill Street. They say that they have no intentions of retaliating against the GSU or harming anyone. The statement continues to say that the gangs will instead pursue legal action in light of the inhumane treatment they received at the hands of the GSU. The four gangs reaffirm that members will not disrupt the celebrations, since they have no knowledge of or possess any grenades as was alleged by government’s press release on Tuesday. Lastly and for good measure, the statement says that the gangs would like (quote) “for the GSU to try and come up with a way to help resolve the issues between the various areas, rather than fueling the problem.

Channel 5


Top
#415390 - 09/03/11 02:29 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Mediation Meeting Between GOB, GSG and Other Gangs

Prime Minister Dean Barrow left for St. Kitts on Tuesday to witness the installation of the new president of the Caribbean Court Of Justice. But he never got to that ceremony; as soon as he got to St. Kitts, he had to turn right back around because of the domestic situation in Belize.

The Prime Minister came home to hold peace talks with the gangs. The meetings were set up on Wednesday - that's after key figures in the George Street Gang made history by going public, expressing their grievances against the GSU and making blanket threats against innocent civilians and public safety.

And then, the police came out with a release saying that the gangs had grenades and, quote, "(have) intentions to use them during the September celebrations."

Despite that frightening declaration, a remarkable release from George Street and its allies yesterday disavowed any involvement with grenades and pledged that they will cause no trouble for the September Celebrations.

Still, the notion of a grave danger to public safety persisted and so peace talks with the gangs were held today to try and de-escalate tensions.

This afternoon at the TVET building in Belize City - two sessions of meetings were held. The first was for the leaders and key players in gangs which are not allies of the George Street Gang. That included Back-A-Town, P-I-V, Kraal Road, Taylor's Alley, and SSG. Some leading gang figures including Darren Banks and an associate were even brought down from prison for the meeting. And two of the Meighan Brothers were brought in from police detention.

And from the government side, the Prime Minister arrived and he was backed up by Police and Public Safety minister Douglas Singh, Edward Broaster of the CYDP, The Commissioner of Police, Crispin Jeffries and the Commander of the BDF, Dario Tapia. Violence anthropologist Dr. Herbert Gayle - who has done the most comprehensive research on gangs in Belize was also flown in for the mediation session.

That meeting lasted for about an hour and forty - five minutes and when the first crew was gone - the George Street crew started to arrive at about a quarter to four. They were represented by the Tillett brothers, Shelton Pinky Tillett, along with Gerald Shiny Tillett, and later Troy Tillett and other George street personalities notably excluding "Bobo" - who had made the most caustic remarks on Monday night's news.

That meeting also went for about an hour and forty five minutes - and at the end of it - the Prime Minister spoke very cautiously about the results, saying it is a start:...

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"There was information to suggest that the threat was real. I thought that it necessitated my coming back to Belize and cutting short the mission I was on in St. Kitts. The Minister agreed, he put together `the logistics of the meeting - extended the invitation to the gang leaders. The primary purpose was of course to diffuse the situation in terms of the threat that had been issued. By the time I got here this afternoon I learnt that a press release had in fact been given to you yesterday and that the George Street and affiliates had already given an undertaking. it was nevertheless necessary to confirm that undertaking in today's meeting and to go beyond that. We had 2 set of meetings, the Minister arrange for everybody else other than George Street to come earlier at 1:30 and we spoke to them and the of course we had the meeting with George Street and its affiliates at 3:30. We've agreed with both sides that there is a need for a face to face dialogue and all parties meeting with government of course with the state acting as facilitator on that will take place on Sunday. The idea is to try and forge some kind of a truce and that was made clear to both sides. Both sides express a willingness to talk about exactly that objective."

"Whether we will actually be successful coming out of the meeting on Sunday is another matter but given where we are its certainly worth the effort and I certainly am absolutely committed to investing my time in the process to try and achieve the outcome that we all desire."

Jules Vasquez
"With respect sir, you've been here before. You remember January of 2010 it had reached a similar head and you had a meeting with some of these same players and again it unfolded into chaos."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Well if I have to be here again in a few months' time, I will be. The point is that we have to keep on trying. We acknowledge that in fact the situation has not improve and so we will continue to go at it with a will. There is a difference between this time and last time though. These were far larger groups both the earlier group at 1:30 and the second group at 3:30 and there were many more of the major players. In fact all the known leaders so far as I can tell were present except for people who might actually be in jail. I think we even brought one and two people out of jail. The point I want to make is that I was cautious and in fact factual in terms of telling you that what will come out of Sunday afternoon's meeting is anybody's guess whether anything will come out of Sunday's meeting is anybody's guess but the effort has to be made. Certainly I was extremely impressed with the commitment freely given after I had proposed this dialogue - freely given by the leaders of George Street and its affiliates this afternoon."

"In so far as I can judge I am convince that there is a willingness to make the effort. Government is prepared to offer a number of things if this truce can be reached and so we will make absolutely a determined effort on Sunday to come out of the meeting with something in terms of a way forward."

Geovanni Brackett, reporter "You've address the issue of gang rivalry but tell us did the matter fo the GSU - the incident that occur Friday night which we believe started this whole news cast - was that being address here today?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"But started what? The fact is as Jules has pointed out, we've been having a problem in terms of the gang warfare - the rivalries and the shootings and the murders for a while and the incident with the GSU was spark by the fact that there was a spate of shootings around that time. But to answer your question directly yes of course we discuss the fallout from that incident. All I will say is that the fact of the incident having happen certainly did not lead to any reluctance in the end on the part of the George Street people to continue to engage in a dialogue with government and with the other side. So I don't think we want to spend too much time rehashing the situation with the GSU if the George Street people can say we are prepared to move on then I think all of us have to take precisely that position. Let's move on."

Isani Cayetano, reporter "In terms of the September celebrations with the carnival` tomorrow. What are some of the measures to be put in place going forward?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Well the usual heightened security measures are going to be in place. I don't know whether the Minister wants to reveal his plans - that might not be the wisest possible thing but I suspect the point you perhaps would want me to make is that there will not be any lessening of the step up efforts that are always put in place at this time of the year even though I believe that the commitment made on the part of George Street and Gill Street and the others are not to cause any trouble - will not attack anyone and especially innocent civilians - I think that that commitment was made absolutely is good fate and I accept that they are serious about the commitment. Nevertheless we have to do what we always do at this time and the minister is going to ensure together with the commissioner that all measures are in place."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you speak on those measures?"

Hon. Doug Singh, Minister of Police
"Certainly we will take every effort to ensure that the public is safe. We've made it clear to all parties involve that if anyone breaks the law we will have to take proper measures. There is no easing in context of the policing that have to be done. We understand the circumstances and heightened circumstances. While the carnival is important and is one of those events that require a lot of officers - other events through the September celebrations also will - some of them are a little bit easier to contain such as the Expo; such as the 21st celebration which is concentrated in a specific area. But all measures will be taken. We will; have people in plain clothes. We will have uniform officers along the route as we always do. We will have the bus following the carnival which is there to pick up those people who are disorderly and who are not acting in the proper way and who are disruptive or breaking the law. So there is no easing in context of what has to be done from a policing standpoint but we have come to an understanding that we are going to work in the best possible fate to ensure that there is no violations to anybody's rights and that we will meet on Sunday to try to work through things."

Rowland Parks, Reporter
"In light of the incident on Friday in the George Street area. Will the GSU methods be different from what happen on Friday?"

Hon. Doug Singh, Minister of Police
"Well I think you are making some assumptions and let's just leave it at that."

Geovanni Brackett
"But would you agree that when we were out there - there were physical bruises and not only bruises but evidence of broken arms and broken jaws. Would it not assume that......"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I am saying that nobody has asked the people from George Street to give up any redress of their rights that they feel might be warranted but I am telling you that if we focus on what's really important they have agreed to move on so that we can have this dialogue - this meeting on Sunday. I really don't see that it will do any good to try and rehearse what happen on that fateful day. Like the minister - I don't think we want to go into that - it will not be helpful and we will not do it."

Jules Vasquez
"Some will criticize you for negotiating with people who have made threats against the citizenry at large or indirectly against yourself even. What is your approach to opening a dialogue after threats were made?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Well I am here aren't here and have cut short my trip in order to be here and so obviously as far as I am concern life is real. These people not only made threats - they had wherewithal - they still do to carry out those threats. If it required my presence to diffuse the threats to get rid of the threats then it is my job and my duty. The fact is - let me leave it there. The notion that we are engaging with people that we ought not to engage with make no sense. They are here; they are part of our society. There is a huge problem that involves them. I am always going to be prepared to get involve personally if that can help to lead to a solution."

Jules Vasquez
"Finally how would you characterize the atmosphere - the tone of the meetings? What was the exchange or the repartee like?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"There was a frank exchange but all's well that ends well. I am saying that the George Street people in particular who were the key cards certainly with respect to the worry about security over the carnival weekend were amazingly ready to confirm that no matter what innocent civilians should not be put in harm's way and are amazingly ready to say 'we've spoken to you about what happen, you've heard our complains - we are happy to move as per your suggestion, we are happy to engage in a dialogue that might bring about at least the start of a solution to the larger problem. I've got to be extremely satisfied that that was how things went."

Jules Vasquez
"However you would agree that philosophically a gang is organized to protect turf and make violence - he organizing principle of a gang is that and you cannot have a civil state co-exist with those who exist for the purpose of defending turf and making violence."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"That's why we are talking about trying to put an end to this whole gang phenomenon admittedly it is a extremely tall order. It might be mission impossible but we have got to try and I am saying that it certainly seems to me that we made a start this afternoon and that the meeting on Sunday could just might provide some kind of a break through. Of course there can be no quick fixes. Both the minister and I said to the groups 'you know there would be no GSU if there were no g's' (there would be no Gang Suppression Unit if there were no gangs) if we can work to achieving some kind of understanding that would cessation of hostilities between the rival groups. We would have pull off a small miracle. There is no point telling me that miracles don't happen in modern times. I have to have faith and I have to believe. Thank you."

And so, the attention next turns to Sunday, September fourth when efforts will be made to hammer out a truce. A government statement issued this evening, says today's meetings were set up at the request of the Prime Minister. It says quote, "Sunday's meeting is forge a truce and put an end to gang related violence," end quote. On Sunday, we'll tell you how that went...

Channel 7


Top
#415397 - 09/03/11 02:45 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Prime Minister, Police Ministry and United Gangs meet

Prime Minister Dean Barrow cut short his trip to St. Kitts and returned to Belize to diffuse the ongoing tension between the gangs and the Gang Suppression Unit. Last Friday, the GSU mounted a violent confrontation with the George Street Gang following the funeral of Charles Woodeye and in the process many innocent persons were brutalized. There were subsequent threats of retaliation in the aftermath of the incident which sent shudders throughout the community in light of the approaching celebrations. Soon after his return today, the prime minister and a high level team including Minister of Police Doug Singh, Brigadier General Dario Tapia and Dr. Herbert Gayle headed to the IT-VET where he had two separate meetings; one with gangs not affiliated to George Street and another meeting was held exclusively with George Street and its affiliated gangs. Hattieville inmates who are associates of known Belize City gangs were also included in the meetings. Just before six this evening, both meetings concluded. The prime minister in an interview with the media discussed the possibility of a truce between the rival gangs.

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“Well the meeting came about after I spoke to the Minister of Police from abroad when I learnt that there had been the threat issued on the media and when I learnt from the Minister that there was information to suggest that the threat was real. I felt that it necessitated me coming back to Belize and cutting short the mission I was on in St. Kitts. The minister agreed; he put together the logistics of the meeting, extended the invitation to the gang leaders. The primary purpose was to diffuse the situation in terms fot he threat that had been issued. By the time I got here this afternoon, I learnt that a press release had in fact been given to you yesterday and that the George Street and Affiliates had already given an undertaking. It was nevertheless necessary to confirm that undertaking in today’s meeting and to go beyond that. We had two sets of meetings. The minister arranged for everyone else other than George Street to come one-thirty and we spoke to them and then of course we had the meeting with George Street and its affiliates at three-thirty. We agreed with both sides that there is a need for a face to face dialogue and all parties meeting with government—of course with the state acting as facilitator and that will take place on Sunday. The idea is to try and forge some kind of a truce and that was made clear to both sides—both sides expressed that willingness to talk about exactly that objective. Whether we will actually be successful coming out of that meeting on Sunday is another matter, but given where we are, it is certainly worth the effort and I certainly am absolutely committed to investing my time in the process to try and achieve the outcome that we all desire.”

Jules Vasquez, 7 News

“With Respect sir, you’ve been here before. We remember January of 2010, it had reached a similar head and you had a meeting with some of these same players and again it unfolded into chaos.”

Dean Barrow

“Well if I have to be here again in a few months time, I will be. The point is that we have to keep on trying. We acknowledge that in fact the situation has not improved and so we will continue to go with it a will. There is a difference between this time and last time—these were far larger groups. Both the earlier group at one-thirty and the second group at three-thirty and there were many more of the major players. In fact, all the known leaders as far as I can tell were present except for people who might actually in jail—and I think we even brought one or two people out of jail. So the point I want to make is that I was cautious and in fact factual in terms of telling you that what will come out of Sunday afternoon’s meeting is anybody’s guess—whether anything will come out of Sunday’s meeting, is anybody’s guess. But the effort has to be made. Certainly I was extremely impressed by the commitment freely given after I had proposed this dialogue—freely given by the leaders of George Street and Affiliates this afternoon. So far as I can judge, I am convinced that there is a willingness to help the effort. Government is prepared to offer a number of things if this truce can be reached and so we will make absolutely a determined effort on Sunday to come out of the meeting with something in terms of a way forward.”

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Police issued a release saying that it had received information that several gangs had grenades that they intended to use during the celebrations. On Thursday, four affiliated gangs rejected that allegation and today the rival groups all agreed to hold their corner. Minister Doug Singh told the press that aside from the customary increased patrols, there are other security measures being put in place to ensure the safety of citizens during the September Celebrations, particularly the Carnival Road March to be held on Saturday.

Dean Barrow

“Well the usual heightened security measures are going to be in place. I don’t know if the minister wants to reveal his plans. That might not be the wisest possible thing but I suspect the point you would want me to make is that there will not be any lessening of the stepped up efforts that are always put in place at this time of year even though I believe that the commitment made on the part of George Street and Gill Street and the others not to cause any trouble; not to attack anyone and especially innocent civilians; I think that that commitment was made absolutely in good faith and I accept that they are serious about the commitment. Nevertheless, we have to do what we always do at this time and the minister is going to ensure together with the commissioner to make sure that the measures are in place.

Doug Singh

Doug Singh, Minister of Police

“We’ll take every effort to ensure that the public is safe. We’ve made it clear to all parties involved that if anyone breaks the law, that we will have to take proper measures; there is no easing in context of the policing that has to be done. We understand the circumstances and the heightened circumstances. While the carnival is important and it’s one of those events that require a lot of officers, other events through the September celebrations also will. Some of them are a little easier to contain such as the Expo, such as the twenty-first celebration which is concentrated in a specific area. But all measures will be taken—we’ll have people in plain clothes, we’ll have uniformed officers along the route as we always do. We will have the bus following the carnival which is there to pick up people who are disorderly or not acting in the proper or who are disruptive and breaking the law. So there is no easing in context of what has to be done from a policing standpoint, but we have come to an understanding that we are going to work in the best possible faith to ensure that there is no violation to anybody’s rights and that we will meet on Sunday to work through things.”

This is the second time that the prime minister has met directly with the gangs. In the first instance, in January 2010 the truce lasted overnight and rival factions resumed the bloodbath on the streets.

Channel 5


Top
#415564 - 09/06/11 02:07 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Tonight we're happy to report that - in the city - the weekend passed without any major incident of violence, or worse, domestic terror - the gangs it seemed held to a ceasefire.

The idea of a truce was broached on Friday when Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the gangs held talks at the ITVET building in Belize City.

They followed up on Sunday afternoon at the same place. The meeting last for about three hours - and at the end, none of the gang leaders wanted to talk, but the PM discussed the terms of the truce that had been forged:...

Jules Vasquez Reporting
Pinky Tillett, Bobo and other George Street members walked out of Sunday meeting after five seeming at ease. The same for other members of George Street who greeted members of other groups with casual collegiality. Even Darren Banks seemed at ease and he was going back to prison.

On the government side, Chairman of the Crimes Control Council Michael Young, Dr. Herbert Gayle, BDF Commander Dario Tapia and Police CEO Col. George Lovell, the police minister and the works minister were some of the group there to back up the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"There was an agreement reached that the fellows would in fact implement a truce - a cease fire. So far, so good. We have been here before as was pointed out on Friday. I do repeat that not with quite the critical mass that we saw today and Friday. I therefore believe that there is a firm basis for hope - for optimism but I am also quite aware of the fact that the testing period is still to come that what was the consensus that was reached has to be fragile and we won't know if it would hold until we know."

Jules Vasquez
"On what basis is the truce agreed upon? Is it agreed upon the expectation that certain "beefs" have been worked out between fueling crews or is it an expectation that the state will do what it will if the violence continues?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I think a combination of both. People express a willingness to try to come together and put an end to the senseless violence. As a matter of self-preservation - as a matter of wanting to survive but in the course of the interventions a number of leaders did make they point to their fellows that well we need to stop this for our own sakes but we also need to stop this because the state will clearly have to ratchet-up the ante if we don't stop."

Jules Vasquez
"Did they specify any particular "beefs" that one crew may have had with another and were those squash?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"No, people said quite sensibly that 'so much of their boys are dead' or 'so many of my colleagues were murdered by people across the table but to get hung-up on that will not bring anybody back and it will just continue the cycle and we need to put an end to the cycle so that was their basis on which the agreement to move forward was reached."

So now, both sides move forward but it is more than just a cordial meet and greet:

Jules Vasquez
"Has the government had to give any assurances of jobs or anything like that?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Oh, we've made it plain that once this thing holds of course we will be committed to the creation additional employment opportunities and social opportunities. We certainly will want to do a little infrastructure in each of the particular neighborhoods whether it's by way of some street repairs or maybe building some little community center - assisting with the repairs of homes, but we are trying to ensure that there is a structure in place. There is a sort of coordinating committee that's been formed that will comprise people from RESTORE Belize, from the Office of the Prime Minister; the Minister of Works will actually serve. Pastor Cassanova will act as a kind of coordinator - but that will have representative from each of the neighborhoods - each of the crews. The idea is for that coordinating committee to come up with the projects that will be implemented but also to act as a monitor of the whole truce process."

But his optimism is tempered

Jules Vasquez
"Gangs - a lot of their business, a lot of their existence is not a social club that exists for economic reasons. A lot of it is about turfs, selling Marijuana, who control certain areas things like that."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Nobody Jules is some cock-eyed optimist. I said to you there is a basis for cautious optimism, there is not a basis for letting hope run wild - that would be naive - if not downright stupid. We recognize that with the best will in the world because of some of the factors you've identified because there will be those who will wonder off the reservation because it is hard for any leader to control every last foot soldier or sort of occasional affiliate out there - Murphy's Law will no doubt intervene. We have though in place this committee as well as their agreement that the leaders will talk to one another direct, will communicate with one another direct. We have in place this committee that will act as some body - some structure that will seek to exert a calming influence, will seek to ensure that any breakdown that happens in an individual instance will not lead to a generalize breakdown so that the whole thing comes crashing down. But I am saying that life is real. I recognize that there still a long way to go. I am just happy that we've made a start, we've made what appears to be a very promising start."

A press release from Government today says, quote: "Government is confident that the rest of the September celebrations can…proceed in an untroubled, festive manner."

And it adds that, quote: "For the longer term, Government is hopeful that Sunday's historic truce will last and will bring to a halt the cycle of senseless violence…"

Channel 7


Top
#415567 - 09/06/11 02:11 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Gangs meet with P.M. and commit to a truce

Prime Minister Dean Barrow rushed back to Belize last Friday to meet with gang leaders. They agreed to hold the peace until after the September celebrations; the carnival road march went without incident. Friday’s meeting was followed by another at the ITVET on Sunday where all Belize City gangs sat around the table with the Prime Minister, Minister of Police Doug Singh, Anthropologist D. Herbert Gayle and others on behalf of the government. The gangs agreed to a truce and a coordinating committee was formed to monitor the progress. But how fragile is that truce? News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The seemingly relentless waves of gang related homicides gripping the streets of the Old Capital since the turn of the century have arguably contributed more to the country’s annual mortality rate over the last five years than all traffic fatalities combined. Despite successive governments fruitlessly attempting to address the problem the number of casualties to crime and violence has only snowballed with time. It has been three and a half years since the Barrow Administration assumed office and the problem has proven to be more than just a thorn in its side. An effort to bring together rival factions within Belize City’s underworld is the latest endeavor to call a ceasefire.

Doug Singh

Doug Singh, Minister of Police

“The agreement is that there’s a commitment on the part of both sides, and I’m saying both sides even though it involves different groups in each side, to actually hold it down. Essentially to start a process to work together that includes several stages. It includes mitigating, reconciliation, there were suggestions made by one side that perhaps we need to have a forum where they can all get together and start to socialize together to help to develop a relationship.”

That relationship between enemy gangs have, for quite some time, been non-existent. As it currently stands there have been ninety-five homicides since the start of the year, much of which can be attributed to the ongoing turf wars. On Friday a meeting was convened by P.M. Barrow with members of various groups, including the dominant George Street Gang, to establish a peaceful co-existence going forward.

Dean Barrow [File: September 2, 2011]

“The idea is to try and forge some kind of a truce and that was made clear to both sides, both sides expressed that willingness to talk about exactly that objective. Whether we will actually be successful coming out of that meeting on Sunday is another matter, but given where we are, it is certainly worth the effort and I certainly am absolutely committed to investing my time in the process to try and achieve the outcome that we all desire.”

Dean Barrow

According to Minister of Police, Douglas Singh, the principal gangs, those being George Street and the South Side Gangsters, have taken the necessary step to arrive at an amicable solution to curtail the recent spate of killings.

Doug Singh

“There is this clear understanding that this is an opportunity, maybe a first-time opportunity with this very large group to actually move forward and I think we are grateful for that. There’s a lot that has to be done to ensure that the proper things are put in place but we certainly are grateful for the commitments that are being made on the side of these [gangs], by these parties.”

To understand the gravity of this problem one needs only look at the evolution of gang culture in Belize. Much like both major political parties, not only do these cliques bear similar colors but their rise to prominence have occurred within the constituencies of past Prime Minister Said Musa and current Prime Minister Dean Barrow. The former saw the rise of Majestic Alley in Fort George during his consecutive terms in office while the latter has seen and continues to see the growth of George Street in Queen Square. A similar, unsuccessful attempt at armistice was made in early last year.

Dean Barrow [File: September 2, 2011]

“We acknowledge that in fact the situation has not improved and so we will continue to go with it a will. There is a difference between this time and last timethese were far larger groups. Both the earlier group at one-thirty and the second group at three-thirty and there were many more of the major players. In fact, all the known leaders as far as I can tell were present except for people who might actually in jailand I think we even brought one or two people out of jail. So the point I want to make is that I was cautious and in fact factual in terms of telling you that what will come out of Sunday afternoons meeting is anybodys guesswhether anything will come out of Sundays meeting, is anybodys guess. But the effort has to be made.”

Part of that effort is to provide gang members with gainful employment.

Doug Singh

“Certainly on the group associated with the SSGs they said that they felt that they could take care of their employment opportunities. We got a different impression from the groups associated with the George Street Gang that certainly they may need some form of assistance in securing employment, recognizing that many of these people are unemployable from the standpoint that business houses and employers in the society at large are not prepared to take chances.”

GOB, for its part has taken several risks, admittedly, Singh says, they did not turn out according to plan.

Raymond "Killa" Gentle

Doug Singh

“The government has made efforts in the past, most recently there was a group of about fifteen that were relocated to different parts of the country. That program hasn’t worked very well. There was also the effort, I think, with the construction work, being done on the south side for the rebuilding of certain homes and [Raymond] Killa Gentle was shot on the worksite there. The prime minister made it absolutely clear to the group that unless we can create a safe working environment even for the members of these groups then it’s useless to try to provide the opportunities because if they can’t work, if they can’t come out and work anywhere then what’s the use of the government effort?”

A coordinating committee has since been assembled to monitor the truce and to propose to government community uplifting initiatives that will also provide jobs across Belize City. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


Top
#415717 - 09/08/11 02:41 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Belize’s murder count continues to mount and as I write, the number is
fast approaching the century mark and on pace to surpass even last
year’s alarming record of 132. Given Belize’s small size and
population, this is truly alarming. A recently released report placed
Belize among the top ten most dangerous countries in the world to live
or visit. This is particularly troubling given the fact that so many
of our people rely upon tourism for their livelihood. News this week
of a female tourist being raped and robbed as she peddled across the
country will not help and everyone agrees that something has to be
done and quickly.

Last week, Prime Minister Dean Barrow rushed back to Belize from a
totally unnecessary trip to St. Kitts. According to the PM, it was to
take him a week to travel to the Caribbean island for the inauguration
of the new President of the Caribbean Court of Justice; would not a
congratulatory call have sufficed? Many wondered about the timing of
this trip given the fact that all the signs were already pointing to
troubling times ahead. Remember, this was well after the
confrontation on George Street and even after the ‘not so subtle
threats”. Mr. Barrow however, has a flair for the dramatics and
revels in his role of “knight in shining armor” rushing to the rescue.

Sometime during the evening of Friday August 26th, a deadly
confrontation occurred between members of Belize’s dreaded Gang
Suppression Unit (GSU) and members of the George Street community;
shots were fired at the Police Station and a Molotov cocktail was
reportedly thrown inside. After it was all over, two persons were
dead, a young child was wounded and serious threats were hurled toward
the Police and “innocent citizens”. The Prime Minister’s name was
called several times by angry residents who named him as personally
responsible for all that had transpired.

A Police released sent out the following Tuesday seemed aimed at
justifying the Police’s actions by stating that “the Police has
received reliable information that rival gangs are in possession of
grenades and has intentions to use them during the September
celebrations". That was followed by another release supposedly being
issued by the gangs themselves. This has to be a first. I was
watching the news and almost fell off my chair. I cannot believe that
any media house would have reported that as a “press release”.
“Someone handed us a note” or “we were delivered a note” maybe, but
not a “press release”!

It was also unheard of and unwise for the Prime Minister to legitimize
the concept of gangs by sitting with any group purporting to represent
such. Someone from the Police Department or someone from the Ministry
even, but not the Prime Minister. Dean Barrow has tried this before
and it has not worked. It can never work.
Minister of Police Doug Singh has conceded that another harebrained
scheme by the PM to send high-energy criminals to rural districts has
backfired. Crime statistics in all three targeted districts have
soured and we hate to say but, “we told you so”!

Two things come to mind regarding Mr. Barrow’s latest folly. Number
one: if these gangs are as organized as we are making them out to be,
then we are in worse trouble than we can ever imagine. If they are
not, then Dean Barrow is playing a serious game and has done much to
push them in that direction. Whichever way, it spells bad news for
Belize.

I do not believe that Belize has the gang problem that we are making
it out to be. We have pockets of young people who hang together and
sweat each other’s fever but that does not translate into a gang. Yes,
each and every one of those are capable of committing serious crimes
and even murder, but to suggest that it is some collaborated effort is
giving too much credibility to unorganized miscreance.
Those young men who allowed themselves to be drawn into the fray of
that political flimflam have also done themselves a disservice. They
are forever marked and added to the ranks of “usual suspect”. They
have practically accepted responsibility for anything before or
hereafter attributed to their respective gangs and will be the first
rounded up under the label of “criminal investigation or crime
prevention.”

Dean Barrow was hesitant to reveal what he promised the so-called gang
leaders but whatever it was, it can never be enough. Some of these
individuals make thousands of dollars in a single day and are by now,
quite accustomed to high living. They sleep late, drive fancy cars
and spend money as if it is going out of style. Does this man think
that he can coerce them away from illegal activity by promising some
infrastructure job that can pay at the most, a couple of hundred
dollars per week? This might work for a few who have “not strayed off
the reservation” or a few of the “foot soldiers” as Mr. Barrow has put
it but those already running the free range; forget it!

The root causes of Belize’s crime problem runs deep and complex.
Politicians have done more than their fair share in promoting the
violence and squeezing this toothpaste out of the tube. It will take
much more than the promise of a few jobs or the handing out of a few
dollars to re-tube this sucker.

When I write on issues like crime, I try to not only point out the
problem but to also try my best to make suggestions for reform. In
this case, I must beg an exception. This is a very serious
predicament that we find ourselves in.
There is an old saying that when you find yourself in a hole, the best
plan is to stop digging. We are in a deep hole but unfortunately, our
Prime Minister has dug us even deeper and continues to dig. He has
campaigned in poetry and has been governing in prose.

These young people are tired of hearing either of those. You need a
serious plan Mr. Prime Minister because your superfluous language and
shifty chicanery will not bail you out of this one.
Belize needs to take a bi-partisan, holistic approach to solving this
problem. It will require a wholesale awakening by just about every
Belizean man, woman and child. This administration’s policy of
victimization, polarization and political tribalism will seriously
impede this however. The cold naked truth is that this administration
lacks the necessary will, skill and wherewithal to solve any problem
or to move this country forward. They spend too much time peering
into the rear view and playing the blame game. They are too arrogant
to accept help or advice. There is but one solution; “this crowd has
to go!”



--
G. Michael Reid
Citizen of the world

Top
#415774 - 09/09/11 02:21 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

PM Barrow brokers truce with city gangs …but for how long?

Following the controversial beat-down of George Street residents and reputed gang members by the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) on Friday, August 26, 2011, Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with representatives of the city’s major gangs in an attempt to facilitate a truce between them to prevent serious violence during the September celebrations.

Initially, PM Barrow met with gang representatives on Friday and Sunday, September 4, but today, Wednesday, representatives of Government also met with members of the South Side Gangsters (SSG).

Yesterday, Tuesday, the SSG had stated publicly that they didn’t agree with the outcome of the meetings, and that they were not represented in the meetings on Friday and Sunday, as was stated by Ministry officials.

These peace talks followed threats that were made by members of the George Street Gang (GSG) while they were airing their grievances with the GSU via the media after many of them had been brutalized by members of the GSU. They claimed police brutality even after they had complied with the orders of the officers.

The GOB took that threat seriously, and on Friday evening and Sunday evening, GOB representatives met with a majority of the leaders and key representatives at the ITVET compound on Freetown Road.

To do this, PM Dean Barrow had to cut short his trip to St. Kitts where he had gone to see the new president of the Caribbean Court of Justice formally installed.

Also flown in for the mediation meeting was Dr. Herbert Gayle, a social anthropologist, who has done the most extensive research on crime in Belize to date.

The State was also represented by Doug Singh, Minister of Police and Public Safety; the Commissioner of Police, Crispin Jeffries; Brigadier General Dario Tapia, Commander of BDF; Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster, director of the Conscious Youth Development Project (CYDP); and Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Works.

It is notable that the security of the ITVET compound was taken over by the police. Every vehicle belonging to the gangs was searched at the gate for weapons, and metal detectors were used on every gang member before they could enter the meeting room.

On Friday there were two meetings: one at around 1:30 p.m., which lasted for about an hour and forty-five minutes, and another at around 4 p.m., which lasted for another hour and forty-five minutes.

Darren Banks, a reputed leader on remand, and another associate, were escorted by prison wardens to the meeting. Police officers also brought the Meighan brothers, major players in one of the gangs, from police detention to participate in the meeting.

The first meeting included GOB and gang members of Back-a-Town, PIV, Kraal Road, Taylor’s Alley, and Southside Gangsters; the other meeting included the George Street gang and its affiliates. We understand from officials at the ITVET that the first group is in direct rivalry with George Street and their affiliates.

On Sunday, as was agreed at the end of Friday’s meetings, the key players of both sides agreed to meet GOB again, this time together, to mediate a ceasefire. That meeting ran for a little over 3 hours.

At the end of Sunday’s meeting, PM Barrow spoke very guardedly to the media present on progress to curb the gang-related violence.

He said on Sunday that there has been a fragile consensus by all groups involved. He said that the truce hammered out was as a result of a combination of two things: the state sticking to the principle of doing what must be done to keep the public safe, and a sense of self-preservation by the members involved.

Mr. Barrow explained that the gang leaders and their rivals have said that too many of their “soldiers” and “lee bwoy dem” have died senselessly in the last few months.

He said that the State is not foolishly hoping that all members will abide by the truce, but he believes that there is a basis for cautious optimism because more of the gangs were represented in these meetings than were represented the last time GOB tried to meet with the gangs.

PM Barrow then spoke on how the truce is expected to work. He explained that a coordinating committee has been set up (he didn’t specify any members or if gang leaders would become members) to monitor the truce and exert a sort of calming influence over the “foot soldiers” of each gang.

He also explained that once the testing period has shown that the truce can hold, GOB and the committee will make jobs available for members to restore infrastructure in the various neighborhoods. He did not specify what sort of infrastructure.

On Friday, when asked if the conduct of the GSU on George Street on August 26, 2011, was addressed, PM Barrow chose not to go into details of that discussion.

However, he did say that residents of George Street who were affected, and who feel that their rights have been violated, are free to seek any legal course of action for compensation, and that in fact, some residents have already chosen to seek the legal course for redress.

Also on Friday, when the question was put to Minister Singh about GSU possibly changing its tactics, Singh responded that the media representative was making assumptions, and the question went unanswered.

A reference was made to the fact that residents could show bruises and wounds suffered. At that point, PM Barrow addressed the media saying that revisiting the evening of August 26, 2011, would produce no positive result.

He reiterated that the George Street Gang has agreed to move past that incident, and no one is barring them from seeking redress for any violation of their rights.

The fact of the matter, however, is that in the view of many citizens, both those who have been directly affected by the violence, and those who have learned of the incidents through the media, the GSU has been using unnecessary violence against innocent citizens, apparently without any fear of censure from their commanding officers, the Minister of Police, or the Prime Minister himself.

But the George Street incident was not an isolated incident, and the consensus of opinion from the general public seems to be that the GSU officers are “out of control,” and apparently, will remain “out of control” for the foreseeable future.

The South Side Gangsters (SSG) sent out a press release yesterday to the media, claiming that GOB has been misinforming the public, and that the authorities ought to have known that it was not proper that no representatives of SSG were present at the meetings.

The press release read, “This notice serves to inform the public that the Prime Minister Barrow, Minister of Police, Douglas Singh, Min. “Boots” Martinez, Mr. Jeffries, George Street Gang, associates of George Street Gang, and all other attendees at the meetings held at the ITVET Building on Friday, September 2, and Sunday, September 4, 2011, know quite well that there were no participants present representing the ‘SSGs’ South Side Gangsters.

“We were not in attendance at any of the sessions for the simple reason that we felt that the true objective was to only resolve the issues between the GSU Gang and the George Street Gang. We felt that it would NOT have been a real open floor for discussion where we would have been able to voice our opinions, suggestions, insights nor issues with the ‘dominant’ George Street Gang and their associates. We believe that it was simply a session where the PM and his people can come to an understanding with the George Street Gang.”

“So therefore, we the South Side Gees stand and make note to the public that our Government and reps of the Government are making their own truce with the George Street Gang. GOB is using the SSG as their scapegoat to mend their relationship with the George Street Gang. Prime Minister needs to stop exploiting the SSGs.”

The release then urged that GOB meet with SSG at the earliest possible time, preferably at the Yabra Community Policing Building on Caesar Ridge Road.

Police Minister Doug Singh told KREM News that 20 members of SSG met with GOB at ITVET today, Wednesday. Some members were even brought from prison to participate.

Singh said that SSG has now provided its support for the truce. Two of its members have been appointed to communicate, on behalf of SSG, to the other gang leaders to continue to negotiate a way forward even after the September celebrations.

At this point, it is still uncertain if members of the Rocky Road and Jump Street gangs have had any representation on any of the three meeting days.

Amandala


Top
#416121 - 09/13/11 07:35 PM Re: Gangs Issue Unprecedented Joint Press Release [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Negotiating with Terrorists


There was no war going on between the Gangs. No new one. None that has not been escalating since 2008. No new or different “old beef” between gangs in Belize that made Dean Barrow make an emergency u-turn. As with most things, Barrow’s return was all selfish and without balls. It was raw fear. As a politician, Barrow was returning to barter for his life. One of his creations was threatening to “x him out”. Gangsters do not use courts or ballot boxes to vote. Another echoing threat was that “Dean Barrow better tightened up…”

Dean Barrow was exposed by accident. Yes, by accident, because BELIZE TIMES sources have informed us that the street truth behind the harassment might be a corrupt police department trying to cut in and “work with” a large shipment of drugs suspected of being connected to the George Street Bloods (GSB) at that time. Barrow got “called out”, like a mob boss turned in by a scorned lover. George Street is his pet cobra.

Think about it. The criminal gangs in the city formed a union and incredibly issued a press release. Are we concerned yet?

List the active criminal gangs in the city: George Street, Rocky Road, Kraal Road, Supal Street, Gill Street, Sunset, Ghost Town, Backa Town and South Side. All those gangs are stuffed inside Queen Square proper or overlapping with it. Further, the leader or boss of all the criminal gangs in the city is the GSB. This gang has been comfortably bred from the heart of Dean Barrow’s constituency. A constituency he has manipulated and cultivated for an uninterrupted twenty seven years. All he has to show for it is a murderous gang that he cannot control.

Belize heard the interview of Carlos Abraham aka “Sinbad”, as the pain of Barrow’s betrayal was heavy on his tongue. “After we vote in Dean Barrow – this is what he did to us – he chance us.” In fact, it appeared to them that they had been replaced, “…. It looks like he built his death squad that is what I think. GSU is a stupid unit. That is Dean Barrow death squad.”

What the public needs to know is that Dean Barrow’s sister does all the real “political” work for him in the garrison of Queen Square. In the Southside ghettos of the old capital “Sister B” is called “Mother Blood”.

Poor people may be uneducated but they “ain’t” fool. The streets know the real stories, believe that. You heard the “SSG” member: “we have to deal with this thing from the root, because if you just represent one side, like I said, Dean Barrow… they support all of George Street…”

What the thug said after that was an eye opener. Think about it, what could a Prime Minister bring to the negotiating table. Jail, threats, police brutality, preventative detention? What? Word gets out fast; South Side Gang (SSG) realized the real situation. In the same way the police pick up and drop off gang members in the neighborhoods of rival gangs, the government was trying to take the bull’s eye off Barrow and refocus it on other criminal groups. They smelt it: “GOB is using the SSG’s as their scapegoat to mend their relationship with the George Street Gang.”

Look at that madness, now another press release from another criminal association. This one apparently is non-aligned. They are making more demands. Belizeans should never depend on deviants and criminals to dictate when, where and for how long we should feel safe. That is the mercy that the press release granted us. Why is Barrow negotiating with these men that have been terrorizing the nation? He has called them terrorists and accused them of trying to hold the country hostage.

The United States of America has an unwavering hard line policy: no negotiations with terrorists. The learning for this is rooted in the fact that, one of the first things negotiation does is to glamorize and publicize the cause of the terrorist. Barrow is making these thugs celebrities.

The sociological fact is that by negotiating with these criminal gangs, it will seem to people, particularly the at-risk ghetto youths, that the gangs are an acceptable part of society, which in turn will make it much easier for them to recruit new members. Their criminal association becomes a sure source of legitimate protection, housing and even part time employment to subsidize and launder their illicit activities. This increase in number of members will make the gangster groups larger in size and much harder to control. Their large numbers can enable them to cause more trouble and all of the innocent people of Belize will become less safe.

Obviously, part of negotiating with terrorists is giving them something that they want in return for something that you want. This could encourage terrorists to escalate the frequency and potency of their criminal activity as a bargaining chip. It is becomes a pattern of power to get results. This will bring on more and more gang threats with every negotiation that takes place. This is not a realistic way to keep people safe, Barrow knows it.

In fact, Barrow’s pleadings with the Union of gangsters may buy him a few days, but in the long run, it encourages these terrorists to carry on with their violent behavior. The UDP play with this demon every opportunity they get. This is, by our count, the third UDP truce. The only thing shorter than the length of these fantacia truces is UDP terms in office.

Same old song and dance, we saw the resurrection or instigation of the CYDP program. They chanted up the gang spirits. Ask yourself why we did not need a “Gang Suppression Unit” under the PUP years in Government? Why was there no need for a CYDP? Why was there no need for Government-Gang truces? Why was the murder rate so low?

The PUP believed and invested in the youths of Belize. We did not condemn them to gang membership. We gave them hope as “Youth for the Future” and not subsidized vacations on tax payer dollars for gang bangers.

The placebo to the public is a dangerous one. Barrow knows that the public wants to feel good and will grasp as any possibility especially during celebration time. Barrow does not intend to bring any real solution.

Look at the team. An anthropologist from a country with an even worse crime rate than ours and he is yet to have one single successful program with identifiable results in Belize. Dr. Gayle is a paid mouth piece with an open dated plane ticket after his consultation fees run out.

Then there is the attorney for the UDP and chairman of the disgracefully comatose Crime Control Council (CCC), Michael Young. What a joke, how can that sheltered little “coconut” relate or connect with ghetto kids? He is partly responsible for the violence by his terrible performance on the CCC. Then there is Boots, he proudly employs the gangs and uses them as goons or mascots when necessary. Dean Barrow was the attorney for the George Street bosses. Stop the shenanigans! Nothing good will come of this, it will only get worst.

Belize Times

Top

Links
Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!


Things to do

News
Daily News
Daily Weather

Classified Ads
BelizeNews.com
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Today
SP Town Council
Channel 7
Channel 5
Amandala
Love FM
The Reporter
Caye Caulker
Chronicles

PLUS TV
TV Newscasts
Radio Stations

Click for our
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites

Event Guides
Event Calendar
Specials & Events
Things to Do
SanPedroScoop
iTravel Belize
Paradise Theater

Blogs
San Pedro Scoop!
Tia Chocolate
Tacogirl
My Beautiful Belize
I-Travel Belize
Belize Adventure
Belize Hub
Romantic Travel
Bound for Belize
Conch Creative
As The Coconuts Drop
More Blogs...
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Conch Shell Inn: All rooms are right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro, so within walking distance to anything and everything!!
Lil’ Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
Mini Chat

Cayo Espanto
Click for Cayo Espanto, and have your own private island
More Links
Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
December
S M T W T F S
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Who's Online
3 registered (3 invisible), 48 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
18,676 Registered Members
44 Forums
64,074 Topics
462,343 Posts

Most users ever online: 1,262 @ 06/10/07 07:16 PM




AmbergrisCaye.com CayeCaulker.org HELP! Visitor Center Goods & Services San Pedro Town
BelizeSearch.com Message Board Lodging Diving Fishing Things to Do History
BelizeNews.com Maps Phonebook Belize Business Directory
BelizeCards.com SanPedroDaily.com Picture of the Day

The opinions and views expressed on this board are the subjective opinions of Ambergris Caye Message Board members
and not of the Ambergris Caye Message Board its affiliates, or its employees.