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#495279 - 09/03/14 10:59 AM PUP Says Disband The GSU
Marty Offline
We've featured complaints against the Gang Suppression Unit in our newscast regularly. Recently, showed you what residents from Lakeview Street and Kraal Road had to say about alleged excesses inflicted by officers from that embattled unit.

It must be noted that while there have been many complaints against the unit, in December of last year, the Government of Belize had to pay $175,000 compensation to residents of the George Street for excessive behaviour for a raid in August 2011. Then the National Security Ministry apologized to residents of Taylor's Alley in April 2012 for the unit's behaviour when they conducted a raid through that neighbourhood in 2011. Then there is businessman Miguel Menjivar in Belmopan who launched his own lawsuit against the Unit for the raid conducted on his house.

So, the Unit's behaviour has been called into the question many times in the past, and at the Cordel Hyde Convention on Saturday, the Former 2 Term Prime Minister and current Area representative for Fort George Said Musa called for the hard charging, elite unit to be abolished. Here's his controversial comments:

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"I was looking at what the Amandala said in I believe it's an editorial or perhaps it's from the publisher that Belize today to be young and black in Belize City today is to be treated as a criminal or a potential criminal - that is the sad state of affairs that we are in today my friends. When we have these GSU people riding about in pick-up trucks with US flags on them and they go into your home and raid your yard and your home and lock the house and tell even the occupants, even the people who lives in that house you cannot see what we are searching for. They lock out the people and they carry out their search and they beat up people as well. We saw it on television night after night - this is what we are dealing with my friends. We are becoming a police state under Dean Barrow and the UDP. The GSU is out of control and if I have my way, if had anything to do with it, that is one of the first things the PUP will do - out with the GSU - abolish the GSU because that is no way to be treating people."

Well, his comments didn't sit very well with the new commander of the Gang Suppression Unit, Inspector Mark Flowers. After hearing the LOVE FM evening news on Saturday, Flowers decided to speak out against Musa. He condemned the weekend comments as irresponsible. That interview has resulted in the Opposition Party to call for his removal, and we'll get to that, shortly, but first, for context, here are his extraordinary remarks from yesterday:

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I have heard the comments on the midday news today and I was appalled. I was shocked and disappointed. I find it very frightening the comments made by the senior parliamentarian. The kind of comments are treacherous to say the very least and certainly unnecessary. What it does is two things, it gives people this sense that there is going to be impunity from crime if ever his wishes were achieved and two, it creates and it's going to create an environment of hostility whereby his comments; this parliamentarian is endangering people lives. He gave these people this false sense that they no longer have to do anything legally; they could disrespect or threaten the police or become confrontational with the police which is very dangerous. It's a very dangerous thing, God forbids it ever happens and I pray that it doesn't. This kind of remarks in a political convention has no place. There is no place for that and certainly as a former Prime Minister to be endangering people's lives so very blatantly it is very worrying. Is it now that you are courting votes or popularity by being irresponsible? Is it that you are not satisfied that there are enough problems in this country that the police needs to deal with these problems? Is it that you are asking the police to turn a blind eye? What is there to be achieved by those remarks? What purpose or good does it serve this nation? Whoever buys into this notion that they are to be given some form of impunity to commit crime…..the laws are the laws and if people are arrested for say, smoking a joint of weed those laws were not just made, those laws have been there even when this man was Prime Minister. If he finds it so disturbing why didn't he repeal these laws when he was Prime Minister? It begs the question why do people court popularity to the detriment of law abiding citizens? 90% of the people in this country are law abiding and are appreciative of what the GSU does. That small little group of criminals if you are saying to this country that when elected to office these criminals have nothing to worry about you have a very serious problem. I don't know that the GSU are a bunch of idiots who will go search a home and not ask the home owners to not be present when in fact the GSU has had some of the most remarkable success in the police's history in searches and discoveries and the removal of narcotic drugs and firearms off the streets. They have been successful in the court which means that they have been following the right procedures. To create or try to create this atmosphere of fear and panic is grossly irresponsible and disturbing."

On the heels of the new unit commander's remarks, the Opposition PUP has taken official offense to his comments, and they're now calling for his removal. The PUP sent out a press release and held a late evening conference to state why it is so important for them to take that stance. We challenged them on it, and here's how that conversation went:

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"We are demanding that Inspector Flowers be removed as the head of the Gang Suppression Unit. He does not enjoy the confidence of the Opposition, he does not enjoy the confidence of the many people that we represent and so we are demanding that the minister of national security and the prime minister act immediately to remove him from that position. His actions on the evening news were unbecoming of the head of a unit of our national security forces. As I said earlier we go further to say that it is time for them to heed the call for disbandment of the Gang Suppression Unit. We have long been calling for that, we now reiterate that call, repeat that call. It is time to disband that unit. They have lost the trust and confidence of the Belizean people and when any of our security forces, any unit of our security forces loses the trust and confidence of the Belizean people, it is time for that unit to go."

Daniel Ortiz
"Shouldn't Mr. Mark Flowers be able to respond to that as the head of that unit and shouldn't ge be free to say what he feels is his opinion as well?"

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"Of course he is free to say what is his opinion."

Daniel Ortiz
"But you are calling for his removal now."

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"No, but hold on, let me finish. He is free to give his opinion, to say well we don't agree with what the Honorable Said Musa said because of so and so and so. We are fighting crime. We are reducing this and that and that and that but he didn't do that. He launched an ad hominem attack on me because of the comments that I made at that convention and that's the difference. In other words, he did not behave as a serious respectable, professional Inspector of Police on this occasion."

Daniel Ortiz
"But sir, isn't that your opinion as well the matter of his...?"

Rt. Hon. Said Musa
"That is for the people to judge."

Daniel Ortiz
"On this particular topic, are you saying by making this stance here that anyone who has a dissenting voice against what anyone from the PUP has to say, that they can be targeted for a removal of sorts?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"Absolutely not, as you know we are subject to criticism and attacks by many people in positions of authority on a daily basis; agents of the government and we understand and respect what they are doing. In this case we have to understand that we are traveling down a very dangerous road when a member of our national security forces engages in what we view as a political attack on one of our representatives and a former prime minister of this country and a personal attack on him. Mr. Flowers as head of the GSU works for the people of this country. He is there to serve and protect the citizens of Belize. He is not there to do the work of Mr. Barrow and his political bosses, he is there to do the work on behalf of the citizens of Belize."

The official PUP statement says, quote, "Mr. Flower's comments were disrespectful, arrogant and unbecoming of the Head of a Unit of our security forces. The PUP cannot and will not support a National Security Team which Mr. Flowers forms a part of." End quote.

So, what does the new commander have to say about the reaction from the Opposition Party? We'll we caught up with him half hour before the news started this evening, and he dismissed our attempts to get a response. Here's how that went:

Daniel Ortiz
"The issue of your comments made on last night's newscast for Love FM. Do you stand by those?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I have told you that when I say something I mean it alright. Whatever I have said is what I have said. What had to be said is what is said. I will not go back and flag no dead horse, I've said that."

Daniel Ortiz
"There is currently a move by the Opposition party to seek you removal and you are just here briefly. What's your reaction hearing that?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I don't want to get into no discussion with the Opposition. There is a government in this country and the government decides what goes on right."

Daniel Ortiz
"One last question sir, there is this perception that the Gang Suppression Unit answers to some political superior. As the head of GSU, who does the GSU answer to? Can you give us a categorical assurance of who that person is?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"The GSU answers to the commissioner of police. He is the constitutional head of this department. This is one police department, this is only a unit of the police department. The commissioner is the legal constitutional head of the department, so we answer to the commissioner."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, have there been any instances which you know of which the Gang Suppression Unit answers to someone above or outside of the commissioner of police?"

Inspector Mark Flowers, Commander - GSU
"I just told you. If you ask the same thing it is rhetorical - I will only answer you the same way that there is only one head of this police department and that is the commissioner Mr. Allen Whylie. The Gang Suppression Unit is a unit within the police department. I will not superintend over any unit that practices any degrading, inhumane, illegal, out of order performance - I will not sit by and watch that happen. I am saying to you that at this same token that I cannot be held accountable for those yesteryears incidents. I don't know about them, I was not here and I will account for the period that I am here and I will assure you that this, the brand new GSU, the first three letters in the alphabet GSU will continue to deliver that high attained performance and that it will be within the ambits of the what is legal, what is prescribed."

The PUP statement closes by saying, quote, "We call on the Minister of National Security and the Prime Minister to take immediate steps to have Inspector Mark Flowers removed as Head of the GSU and further call for the disbandment of the Unit which has lost the trust and confidence of the Belizean people."

Well, you won't be surprised to learn that, it ain't gonna happen! Even though we know that the Barrow Administration has itself wrestled with the difficulties created by the GSU, they look also at its unmatched performance in terms of seizures and arrests.

This evening, police minister John Saldivar sent us a statement by text message, saying, quote, "the press release sent out by the Peoples United Party defending its former and apparently current defacto leader is vintage PUP, circling the wagons around one of its own in spite of his obvious mis-speak in disparaging and disrespecting the Belize Police Department and its leaders." It continues,

The release is obviously intended to deflect attention from their leader's placating to the criminal elements in a weak and despicable attempt to gain votes even from criminals. The Minister of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, and the Police Department strongly condemns the inciteful and irresponsible utterance of the Member for Fort George and stands shoulder to shoulder with the leader and members of the GSU who are diligently and courageously serving the country and people of Belize by fighting the criminals who on a daily basis terrorize law abiding citizens." End quote,

We'll have more from that late evening interview with Inspector Flowers as he address the allegations made by the residents of Lake View Street and Kraal Road in our newscast last week.

Channel 7


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#495326 - 09/04/14 11:04 AM Re: PUP Says Disband The GSU [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

A War Of Words: Police vs. Politicians

And so the GSU is dominating the headlines tonight – but let’s not forget where it all started – on Saturday at the Saint Martin De Porres Field – when former two term Prime Minister Said Musa lashed out at the GSU. Never one to hold back on an easy target, Musa pulled out some of his old social justice rhetoric and condemned the GSU’s tactics. Since then, it’s been a lively back and forth about the unit’s tactics and political gamesmanship. We put a few choice bits together:..

Rt. Hon. Said Musa

"I was looking at what the Amandala said in I believe it's an editorial or perhaps it's from the publisher that Belize today to be young and black in Belize City today is to be treated as a criminal or a potential criminal - that is the sad state of affairs that we are in today my friends. When we have these GSU people riding about in pick-up trucks with US flags on them and they go into your home and raid your yard and your home and lock the house and tell even the occupants, even the people who lives in that house you cannot see what we are searching for. They lock out the people and they carry out their search and they beat up people as well. We saw it on television night after night - this is what we are dealing with my friends. We are becoming a police state under Dean Barrow and the UDP. The GSU is out of control and if I have my way, if had anything to do with it, that is one of the first things the PUP will do - out with the GSU - abolish the GSU because that is no way to be treating people."

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition

"We are demanding that Inspector Flowers be removed as the head of the Gang Suppression Unit. He does not enjoy the confidence of the Opposition, he does not enjoy the confidence of the many people that we represent and so we are demanding that the minister of national security and the prime minister act immediately to remove him from that position. His actions on the evening news were unbecoming of the head of a unit of our national security forces. As I said earlier we go further to say that it is time for them to heed the call for disbandment of the Gang Suppression Unit. We have long been calling for that, we now reiterate that call, repeat that call. It is time to disband that unit. They have lost the trust and confidence of the Belizean people and when any of our security forces, any unit of our security forces loses the trust and confidence of the Belizean people, it is time for that unit to go."


And the only one not in there is police minister John Saldivar – who sent his comments to 7News via text message. He said, “The Minister of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, and the Police Department…stands shoulder to shoulder with the leader and members of the GSU who are diligently and courageously serving the country…by fighting the criminals who on a daily basis terrorize law abiding citizens.”

Channel 7


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#495413 - 09/06/14 10:51 AM Re: PUP Says Disband The GSU [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

GSU’s Back Is “Got” By The PM

There was a robbery foiled by the GSU today - more later, but, so the GSU is back in the headlines tonight, but, this time, for the right reasons. But, the issue of whether the unit does more harm than good is still very much a public and political debate.

Today at the House Meeting in Belmopan the Prime Minister conceded there have been excesses but still endorsed the overall effectiveness of the Unit and its commander. That's after he stayed far from the war of words between former two term Prime Minister Said Musa and Inspector Mark Flowers:..

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"Could we get a comment from you on the exchange from the former and the head of the GSU?" Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"They both said more that enough aren't they?"

Jules Vasquez
"Was Mark Flowers out of line?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I don't think so."

Jules Vasquez
"Was Said Musa out of line?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I think so, exactly so, what else is due. I won't bother to get into that except for answering straight forwardly the two question Jules ask. I'll leave that alone."

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"Also the recent allegations in the wake of that the GSU beat up this guy..?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I don't know about that. I know that allegations have been made. I really don't know whether they are accurate. If they are then something will have to be done about that. I think Jules already made the point that government has paid money, not just once, on at least two occasions I believe when suits have been brought in connection with excesses. So even from the point of view from costing the government, the tax payers, we can't tolerate excesses, but we can't let the perfect become the enemy of the good because the GSU is not perfect, but also given that the GSU in my view is good. Are we going to say disband it and coming what to I said just said allowing the perfect to defeat the good? No, let's work on trying to curb the excesses, but there can be no question in my mind but that the GSU has perform overall very well, has been extremely effective - i think Flowers is off to a hell of a start and so I want to see him continue for a long while and I want to see the GSU continue to be an effective crime fighting unit especially with respect to gangs of the Belize Police Department."

Channel 7


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