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#517987 - 10/04/16 06:23 AM Who Set Tires on Fire on BelCan Bridge?
Marty Offline

This evening, a scene eerily reminiscent of the worst of the 2005 riots greeted rush hour drivers. Perhaps the most important traffic route in all of Belize City, the BelCan Bridge linking San Cas Plaza and the Philip Goldson Highway with Central American Boulevard, was blocked by a series of tires set on fire. It coincided with the end of the Belize National Teachers’ Union’s Belize branch rally at the union headquarters located behind our studios. Immediately, the Union disavowed involvement in any time of violence. The Fire Service, located on Cleghorn Street, responded almost immediately and put out the fire, while Eastern Division North police detained two men for questioning. One of them has been identified as Perry “Sticks” Smith, the founder of the Days of Healing organization. But according to President of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, Geovannie Brackett, both men were accounted for up to the time of the incident.

Geovannie Brackett

Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA

“What happen is that like every viewership we came out here, and we saw the bridge blocked. So we like any other person standing by, we were entertained by it. So we were watching it – then the police will arrest two of our people dehm. And Sticks was all day with those guys over at the Teachers’ Union. So we have an alibi. This is complete injustice.”


“So who’s the guy that they took?”

Geovannie Brackett

“They took Sticks – you know Sticks from Days of Healing. And they took “Big Jun”, from our group C.O.L.A. and from Go-Off Sounds. This is complete chance.”

Channel 5

Tyre Fire On Belcan Triggers Tension, Fizzles Fast

Teachers across the country went on strike today - shutting down most schools, and more of the same is planned for tomorrow.

We'll tell you about that shortly, but first to the hottest news of the day - and that's the tyre fire that was set on the Belcan Bridge. It happened just after 4:00 this afternoon

We have not be been able to find exactly who is responsible for the fire, but what we do know is that a heap of tires were quickly assembled on the Belcan bridge right at the beginning of rush hour traffic. It was lit, blocking the bridge on both sides. Fortunately, the Fire Department's Cleghorn Street station is very close to the bridge, and before it could get out of hand, they put the fires out. Police swarmed the area, stopping persons from crossing over for about half hour or so, and when the fire had been doused, 2 persons were hauled away.

Those men are Belize City Residents, Fitz Howard, Perry "Stix" Smith, who you may recognize as the organizer of Days of Healing initiative. We were there when the police hauled them away in the back of a police mobile, and their fellow community activist, Jose Luis Espat, told us that police took away the wrong men. Here's how that went:

"Why don't you all arrest everyone who has on green shirt? Arrest everyone who has on a green shirt. That is what you are arresting me for."

Jose Luis Espat, Community activist
"I was at the gate going in when the guys outside starting to yelled there is a fire on the bridge. So I took out my phone and I ran up the bridge and as I ran up the bridge I saw some tyres blazing, so I have the video. What I saw was a traffic officer trying to hold up the traffic and I saw a person come out of one of those regular city bus and they started to accommodate some tyres and so forth. The person is in the video, I don't know if you could see or identify through that video, but what I saw here was the police wrongfully arresting 2 guys. I don't know the first one in the green shirt, but I know the other guy that was here, he was with us at the teachers' thing as well. So I am telling you with a video evidence that they wrongfully arrested that man."

"When it comes to the ones who are to blame for what occurred out here, you are known as an activists. You are known as someone who associates with the 2 gentlemen who are out here. Did you know the person who you saw in that video?"

Jose Luis Espat, Community activist
"I associate with Mr. Rivers, I associate with Mr. Brackett and as far as I am concern and by the law of this country, association is no crime. That does not mean that we had anything to do with this. Association in any country is no crime."

"You say you were at the rally. You heard what Geovannie Brackett said, he said things may get a little bit unruly and immediately after you see something like this happening."

Jose Luis Espat, Community activist
"It doesn't mean that it's him. It doesn't mean that it's any of us. I am an activist and I will tell you, I am all for peace. If you ask me personally now and my answer has nothing to do with the tyres burnt on that bridge, If you ask me this country warrants a national shutdown. I am not talking violence. I'm speaking that every public worker, every doctor, every nurse, every stevedore, every teacher, every carpenter, every person, every 300,000 plus persons need to let this government understand you cannot play with us, you can no longer take us for fools anymore."

This evening, we spoke with Geovannie Brackett by telephone and he told us that he had nothing to do with that fire on the bridge. He said that he was at the BNTU event when he was alerted like everyone else that there was commotion on the Belcan Bridge. He said the he was around to assist the two detained men legal representation.

Of course, the event was staged to evoke the events of 2005 when an afternoon fire on Belcan Bridge led to riots and looting in downtown Belize City. But while this one was quickly put out and clearly the work of opportunists trying to start something, that one was organic, as it was backed up by UB students and union figures who had already been blocking the bridge.

Channel 7

#518022 - 10/05/16 05:09 AM Re: Who Set Tires on Fire on BelCan Bridge? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Brackett For Belcan Bridge Blaze?

Who started the Belcan Bridge Blaze? That is what police are trying to find out and today Southside Commander Chester Williams told us they have 5 persons detained and are looking for 3 others. Reports are that one of those 3 is COLA President Geovanni Bracket. Brackett denies any involvement in the fire and says that he will turn himself in tomorrow morning. Brackett sent out a press comment explaining more about this move.

Brackett claims that police want another man and are holding his mother until the suspect appears.

Channel 7

Protesters (not BNTU) burn tires on BelCan Bridge

On April 20, 2005, the BelCan Bridge recorded a dramatic clash between police officers and supporters of the then Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), joined by university students.

That clash was a part of a sustained campaign against the administration of former Prime Minister, Said Musa, which had allegedly engaged in massive corruption.

Eleven years, five months and three days later, BelCan Bridge would again record another clash between civilians and the state.

However, this time it would be against the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) government, under pressure by the Belize National Teachers’ Union, which is engaging in continued industrial action until government favorably responds to its 8-point demands for better governance.

Sometime after 4 p.m. today, after the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) had concluded its membership meeting, fire fighters and police officers responded to a fire on Belcan Bridge.

Several tires were burning wildly, as thick, black clouds spewed overhead, and the fire created a delay in the flow of traffic until it was contained by the Fire Department.

The executive director of the “Days of Healing” movement, Perry “Stickz” Smith, and Fitz Howard, 35, a member of the Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action (COLA), had been immediately detained by police, who quickly arrived on the scene.

Smith was first handcuffed and put in the pan of a police pickup truck, but he found his way out when police turned their attention to Howard, who, they said, was his associate.

While Howard had been refusing to be arrested, Smith, handcuffed, attempted to walk away from the police mobile unit but was re-apprehended by police.

The duo had been transported to the Queen Street Police Station, where their attorney, Kareem Musa, had been waiting for them.

Musa told Amandala that police officers simply recorded personal and contact information from the men and told them they were free to go.

Smith and Howard continue to maintain their innocence, saying they had nothing to do with the fire.


#518052 - 10/06/16 05:20 AM Re: Who Set Tires on Fire on BelCan Bridge? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Brackett Charged For Setting Up Belcan Tyre Fire

Literally minutes after he said that, when the teachers were wrapping up that meeting in song,  – the trye fire started on Belcan Bridge.  Now, you might say, well, ok, there it is….but that's not how it works – you can't charge someone for a crime based on what they say.  Brackett was at the BNTU when the fire started – but police say he was the man who set it all up.  Today he was charged with causing a bonfire to be set.  After hiding out from police last night, he turned himself in today:…

A small group of COLA loyalists gathered near the precinct one police station waiting for their president who pulled up in his attorney's BMW at 8:20 AM, along with his co-accused, Perry "Sticks" Smith.

For today's performance, the t-shirted Brackett had to quickly slip into his militant uniform and was embraced by his COLA supporters.

Those COLA supporters warmly welcomed Officer Commanding Southside Chester Williams who arrived and pressed the flesh like the police-tician that he is.

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"Mr. Geovanni Brackett and Mr. Perry Smith are being charged for causing bonfire to me made on the Belcan Bridge whist others are being charged with setting a bonfire on the Belcan Bridge."

Jules Vasquez
"Sir so did these persons Mr. Smith and Mr. Brackett, you're saying they acted as agents, they paid these persons or they arrange for these person to set this fire?"

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"Well I am not going to go into specificity, as you know the matter is before the court. But what I can tell you is that we have methodically conducted our investigation. It's not a rushed investigation, we took our time from when the incident took place to where we are today to ensure that we get all the evidence we need to be able to bring charges against those persons who are responsible."

Jules Vasquez
"Is there surveillance video? Is there surveillance video showing these person setting the fire, those who are actually charged for setting it? And two is there any relation between this and what happened on the Hummingbird Highway the following morning where two fires were set?"

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"I will not go into detail as to whether or not we have a surveillance video. In due time the evidence that we have will be shown as the defendants will be given disclosure and they will know exactly what we have against them. As to whether or not there is any connection between the Belcan and what took place down south; we do not have any information to support that at this time."

Jules Vasquez
"Basically Mr. Brackett said you all were holding a woman hostage until her son turn himself in. So you all were holding her for ransom until he came. Is that indeed the case?"

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"Jules Vasquez I am attorney at law and to hold a person in custody who has not done anything wrong is a clear act of unlawful imprisonment for which we can be sued. I would not and I would never tolerate my officers to do so."

Brackett and Smith emerged a little after 10:00 escorted by police to be put in the patrol pickup and taken to the Queen Street station for processing:

Geovanni Brackett - President, COLA
"It's completely malicious though, completely malicious but this is the government we facing right now."

Hon. Kareem Musa - Attorney for Brackett/Smith
"It's really a petty misdemeanour offence so I don't even know; well I kind of know where this is heading. This is a government that has been union busting over the last couple weeks and Geovanni Brackett is a vocal activist - if not the most vocal activist in Belize. So I can see where this is headed but really and truly the offence falls under the summary jurisdiction offence act section 31:23 and it falls under the same section with dynamite. Dynamite that people light at Christmas time it is causing a bonfire to be set that is the charge and it carries a conviction if there is a conviction a penalty of a maximum of 300 dollars so this is what all this hoopla is about this morning. No doubt in my mind this is political."

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"So just to be clear you received no call from any politician any minister? Did anyone say you know you need to look into Mr. Brackett, I hear from so and so media they say we need to start fire etc. Did you receive any such call?"

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"I will reiterate I receive no such call, I acted independently, we're following the evidence."

Hon. Kareem Musa - Attorney for Brackett/Smith
"We have an unjust state where the police is being completely manipulated and controlled by the politicians an I'm afraid that this is one of those instances as well. "

Jules Vasquez
"Sir then northside, southside, how does this work? Because the fire occurred I believe on the northside of Belcan Bridge which I think you jurisdiction ends at the halfway line."

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"I am an assistant commissioner of police, I have jurisdiction anywhere in the country of Belize and it took place on the Belcan Bridge. The Belcan Bridge is anyone's territory, who arrived there first; we were there and took charge of the investigation."

Jules Vasquez
"Okay because interpretation will be taken that northside had the case originally but you took it under your command because perhaps you are closer with the political directorate. That's interpretation that will be taken sir."

ACP Chester Williams - Commander, Southside
"Really I have been painted all colours in this country but I will take that too. I know where I stand and at the end of the day like I said before this has nothing to do with politics, we are simply doing our work."

Brackett and Co. Taken To Court

So that was earlier today and this afternoon Brackett and Perry "Stix" Smith were arraigned at the Magistrate's court. As we told you they, along with Clayburn Pascascio were charged with causing a bonfire to be set without police permission. The trio pled not guilty to the charge and were released on bail of $500. When the men emerged from court we challenged them on their alleged involvement in the Belcan Bridge Blaze. Brackett and Stix maintained that they had nothing to do with it.

Geovanni Brackett – President, COLA
"I maintain my innocence, during these heightened times and heightened period I'm expected that these kind of heat is to come down on me and I will remain that I am innocent until proven guilty."

Courtney Weatherburne
"And I have to make reference to the comments that you made at the same BNTU meeting; Angel and I were there. You mentioned, I have the transcript right here that's already taken out that you mentioned that COLA is in full support of the teachers 100%. And in your words: "So no bex if a lee road gets closed here and there, or a little tyre gets burnt here and there so we a show a little support a different way." I have the transcript here sir what do you have to say in response to that?"

Geovanni Brackett – President, COLA
"In the past we have had to participate in actions as those. Whether we organise it, whether we were the ones involved in it but we believe when people are upset that sometimes people have different ways of expressing themselves. That's why you have green peace, that's why you have defenders of wild life."

"What we don't do is violence, what we don't sanction is harm to property; we deal with civil constructive civil disobedience. Now I see a lot of things but did I sanction Belcan Bridge? That is what is going to be proven behind the court. I did not sanction Belcan Bridge."

Courtney Weatherburne
"It might seem like a coincidence that right after you made those comments at the BNTU tyres were lit on fire on the bridge. And again you maintain that you have no involvement but in the public perspective you made that comment a couple minutes before the same actions you alluded to in that speech actually happened so it's very hard to disassociate you from the..."

Geovanni Brackett – President, COLA
"You don't need to explain your question when you ask me a question. My answer I'm just maybe prophetic."

Perry "Stix" Smith - Organiser, Day of Healing
"Everybody know Stix da wa community activist. Any community, any organisation weh di step up fi Belize and Belizeans Stix wa deh right there fi observe and watch weh di happen. So I live on southside Belize, I was at the BNTU meeting; I have to cross Belcan Bridge fi go home you know that. So if the cross the bridge and I see tyres deh, I da wa activist of course, I no fool, I no simple, I see something the happen so I sit back and I witness whe di happen."

23 year old Adrian Avaloy and 2 minors ages 16 and 17 were also charged with causing a bonfire to be set without police permission as well as causing a hindrance to the free flow of traffic. They also pled not guilty and were released on bail of $500. All 6 will return to court on November 30th.

Channel 7


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