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#468627 - 07/20/13 05:51 AM Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents
Marty Offline

At least four male residents of Ambergris Caye are speaking up against The San Pedro Police Department, claiming that their constitutional rights have been violated. According to the men, they are just four of many more that have become a target by police. They are claiming that the police have detained them several times in less than a week,then released without charges,in an attempt to “frustrate” them until they leave the island.The police however,are standing their grounds stating that the operation is as a result of mounting complaints that tourists are being accosted (by the individuals) and that the beach is being used for peddling drugs.

The victims claim that the agenda of the police is being perpetuated by a few influential ‘racist” business people. In an interview with The San Pedro Sun, two frustrated residents,Holando“Blackhenoh” Smith and Leonel Polonio, spoke at length explaining their frustration about the ongoing operation. According to the two, they have been targeted because they are “black” and because they are seen talking to tourists. They claim that because they are seen speaking to tourist a few malicious people take that they are “offering” drugs to tourists. “I don’t like the injustice that they are doing against me. I personally think the San Pedro Town Council is upholding it. Just because I am black and I am on the street and at park selling my music to tourists, they believe I am selling drugs and that I am harassing tourists. They are giving a me a drug-dealer name which I personally don’t like because I have never sold any drugs to any tourist. I agree I smoke my marijuana but I don’t sell drugs. I don’t deal with selling coke and other drugs. They are dealing with my rights and I want everyone to know that they are violating my rights,” explained Blackhenoh, a local artist on Ambergris Caye. Blackhenoh hsaid that he was illegally detained for six days over the past week without any justifiable reason.

“They told me that they want to clean the beach and move ‘us black people’ from off the island. I can personally tell them that they can check their records. I have never been arrested for stealing or drugs trafficking. I survive by playing music – I do drumming and singing at the park and that is what I do to get money to feed my kids. I want them to bring their evidence and show that I sell drugs. They want to unjustly incarcerate and threaten my life then I want them to know that when they do that, they are denying my two-month old child the opportunity to eat. They are pushing me to do things I don’t want to do and they are frustrating me,” protested Polonio.

But according to Officer in Charge of the San Pedro Police Formation Superintendent of Police Luis Castellaños, the reality of the situation is different. There are some serious concerns being brought up, in regards to a few males on the island who are harassingtourists, peddling drugs and basically accosting tourists on the beach. “The tourists are complaining to the different establishments that these people along the beach are harassing them. The tourists are saying that they are being offered drugs and are even accosted by a few of them. The complaints are just too much. This is a tourism destination and this cannot be allowed. The tourism police unit is conducting the operation as a deterrentto having people loitering on the beach,” explained Castellaños. The first step the police took was to trim the tree at the church park where people are known to loiter around.Superintendent Castellaños said that some of the people peddling drugs on the beach have even gone to a disturbing newlevel. “I have seen a video that showshow some tourists are taken into the church and sold drugs by some of these very people lingering on the beach. This is the level to which some of these guys have gone to, and it is unacceptable,” stated Castellaños.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun

#468632 - 07/20/13 06:01 AM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
It's about time - thank you San Pedro Town Council and SP Police.

#468641 - 07/20/13 06:37 AM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
cleanhead Offline
To me, this issue seems complex. The article ends, "The police maintained that they will not stop their operations until the loitering on the beach and other public areas are discontinued." Part of what I love about living in San Pedro is that I *can* loiter on the beach and other public areas. I want everyone on the island to share that joy and privilege. When some folks harass other folks to sell things, it is a real problem. It's also a real problem when police harass folks to support the power structure or simply do their jobs with a (conscious or unconscious) racial bias. I hope we can figure out a way to address both problems.

#468644 - 07/20/13 07:31 AM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
Understand the theoretical issues one might sense from afar, but this particular effort is long overdue and much appreciated by residents, families, formerly harassed tourists and businesspeople of San Pedro.
Nobody on this forum had much of a problem when the Town Board targeted Timeshare Salespeople as annoyances and threats to the enjoyment of a vacation ....... this is much the same but the characters are more sinister.
These guys are pulling the race card because they can't think of anything else to defend their position. It's baloney.
For heaven's sake - the Prime Minister, much of the cabinet, a significant portion of the Supreme Court, Town Board and half the attorneys in this country are black - that whine doesn't work for me.

#468655 - 07/20/13 09:10 AM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
JZB Offline
I also appreciate the Police's efforts. It is a shame I feel I have to give central park a wide berth during the day unless I am walking with my husband. I can only take so many 'Hey Baby!'s. It makes me uncomfortable, I'm sure it makes visitors uncomfortable as well.

To clarify, my beef is not with the people selling their crafts and jewelery in the park. It is the people just 'hanging out'.

Edited by JZB (07/20/13 09:14 AM)
Edit Reason: clarification

#468658 - 07/20/13 09:43 AM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
Phil Offline
Trouble is they have picked the guys who are actually selling music and not drugs. That one lad is in our shop all the time printing his CD covers and I believe him that that's all he sells. . They arrested him three times holding him for 48hrs, let him go and re-arrested him again so he spent six days in jail. Great tactic but get it right -it isn't hard to know who does sell the drugs.

#468662 - 07/20/13 10:32 AM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
Thanks for clarifying Phil - maybe you can enlist the local neighborhood groups in helping to identify the bad guys for the police?

#468680 - 07/20/13 04:18 PM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
caye time Offline
I walk the beach everyday and have never felt uncomfortable walking by the park.

Most Caribbean islands herald reggae and other local music forms. A better approach might be for the Town Council or Minister of Tourism to provide a place for the local musicians to play and sell their CDs. I am sure the tourists would enjoy the local vibe and these talented individuals could make a living.

#468686 - 07/20/13 07:07 PM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
seashell Offline
The young guy noted is a non stop chatterbox for sure, but he's never even hinted at selling me anything. Not sure he's even gotten around to trying to sell me one of his CDs.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#468722 - 07/21/13 08:42 AM Re: Anti-loitering operation upsets targeted residents [Re: Marty]
Nobody You Know Offline
Blackhenoh is not a problem. He always seems respectful and not overbearing with tourists. I have never known him to sell drugs. There are many other very well known "dealers" in the park area that have to be known to the police. Perhaps the CD sellers aren't "kicking up" any of those fat music profits...

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