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#375062 04/30/10 08:00 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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This morning at 8:30 a.m. is the " Silence the Violence Walk " as mentioned at the meetings, posted and advertised in the local newspapers and media to be at the OLD Football Stadium in the heart of town.

We need as many members of N.A.C.N.W. as possible to attend and show support for the organization as well as Town Board.

We will walk together as a group along with the other neighborhood watches and schools participating.

I would be glad to give anyone a ride into town this morning. I will be leaving at approx. 7:45 from The Palapa Bar. Call me at 661-6353 if you need a ride

At the football stadium we can meet up on the NORTH side of field proceeding the walk.

Hope to see you there.

Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,160
Posted 15 mins after he left home!!!!!!

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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San Pedro Speaks Out Against Crime

Hon. Mr. Manuel Heredia, Members of the San Pedro Town Council and hundreds of students flocked to the streets yesterday morning, dressed in white carrying posters depicting messages such as "Silence the Crime", "Stop The Violence", among others. The march against crime commenced at 8:30am this morning at the old football field, progressed through the major streets of San Pedro and returned to the field.

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Marty Offline OP
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La Isla Bonita Marches Against Crime

Ask just about anyone on San Pedro and they'll tell you that in the broad, national picture, their island town should qualify for special treatment because the tourists it attracts contributes disproportionately to the earnings for the country's number one foreign exchange earner, tourism. And in that same vein, those residents will also lament that instead of special treatment, they get too few police officers to guard their island treasure. Crime has been on the rise and that's why today no less than the UDP town council organized an anti-crime rally to voice their displeasure with the status quo and demand better. Janelle Chanona was there and she has this report.

Janelle Chanona Reporting
This morning, hundreds of San Pedrano students, their teachers and a handful of parents and supporters took to the main streets of the island to participate in an anti-crime rally.

Kadizah Jones, High School Student
"There's a lot of crime happening in San Pedro. There's fighting, shooting, killing. Just the other day a youth get stabbed just because he coming from work, right ma'm. And we no think the world should be like that. We want they increase the peace, silence the violence."

Concha Nunez, Owner, Sea Turtle Gift Shop
" When I was growing up, it wasn't like this. Now, fifty six years later it's getting worse and worse. We have to really do something to stop it."

Ron Siebert, San Pedro Resident
"It concerns me a little bit but nothing that I wasn't prepared for, moving from the United States to a Third World country. I kind of expected things like that�kind of stuff happens everywhere you go so it's nothing that I'm too worried about."

But organizer of today's event, San Pedro Mayor Elsa Paz, says many people are worried and they are prepared to take dramatic measures to curb crime. First on the list: screening visitors.

Elsa Paz, Mayor, San Pedro Town
"It's not stopping anyone from coming to the island but it's just to have checkpoints. There's a lot of bad elements that come from the mainland just to come commit crime here on the island and I believe if we have a manifest from the water taxis just as we do from the airlines I believe that will work very good. We need more security on those water taxis just to have like a check point, checking who is coming to the island."

Janelle Chanona
"But how do you ensure that doesn't lead to racial profiling?"

Elsa Paz
"Well I know that our police officers know the bad elements. As you know, all over the country of Belize most of the criminal elements are repeated criminals."

While the police agree that some visitors come with bad intentions, Deputy Officer Commanding for the San Pedro Formation, Ernel Dominguez, says unsupervised children often become juvenile offenders.

Ernel Dominguez, Deputy Officer Commanding, San Pedro Formation
"Many of the incidents of reports of crime we have had, during our investigation, most of our investigation we have found out that young people are involved and one of the thing we have looked at a lot is because of them having poor supervision in the home so they are out on the street and are being peer pressured by others."

Janelle Chanona (Stand-Up)
"More than ninety percent of San Pedro's economy is made up of tourism related activities. Islanders say the more crime goes up, the less visitors come to the island."

Major crime on the island ranges from petty theft to burglaries to stabbings and murders. While the statistics here may pale in comparison to Belize City, San Pedranos say the idea is to break the cycle of violence before it spirals out of control. And their solution to controlling the youth population is a curfew.

Janelle Chanona
"The logic of that is that there are too many young people out all hours of the night?"

Gustavo Ellis, Dean, San Pedro Junior College
"Definitely. And I think it has to do with the culture of San Pedro. Parents work and so they probably do not have chance to supervise their children so they might be working at nine, ten o'clock and the children are doing anything they want."

Janelle Chanona,
"So how do you address that family structure?"

Gustavo Ellis, Dean, San Pedro Junior College
"It has to start with the school, the future parents because the generation that is now, you can't bend an old tree so the students need to realize that the only way San Pedro can progress is education, studies, responsible and be accountable for their actions."

Janelle Chanona
"So you would agree with a curfew?"

Mariella Graniel, San Pedro Resident
"Sure, that helps a lot. It has happened several times. It helps a lot."

Kadizha Jones, High Schooler
"At first we felt a way about the curfew because we thought that they were trying to restrict our freedom but now we see that they are trying to make a change for us and we don't feel any way about it."

"Youths are creating this because they feel like they don't have no future so the community centres for youths�give them something to do when in their spare time. Some youths are not going to school because their families can't afford it so they turn to other things like violence."

Minister of Tourism and Area Representative Manuel Heredia agrees.

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism
"San Pedro being one of the bigger municipalities has barely anything for young people can get involved. In other areas you have Youth for the Future, different organizations�not on the island. The reason being that San Pedro forms part of the Belize district and what I have seen from experience, not now only with a Government, but even before, that anything that comes for the Belize District, San Pedro will never be part of it. It is time now, and I believe now being a part of Government, that I have to request a lot more that these activities involve the island also."

Less dramatic proposals include the launch of additional neighbourhood watch programs. There are currently 12 active groups on the island.

Jan Brown, Neighbourhood Watch Organizer
"I had two home invasions, while I was sleeping, in one month and it just frightened me beyond means so I got my neighbourhood together along with some other people that had already said we want to do this and we came together and since October of last year since we started our guard system of seven nights a week, we have only had one home break in."

Janelle Chanona
"Organizers of today's anti-crime rally admit that some of their ideas are extreme but they say that's only because they want to send a strong message to the criminal element that they are serious about positive change in their community. Reporting from San Pedro, I am Janelle Chanona for 7News."

There are an estimated 22,000 people living in San Pedro town. There are currently 19 officers stationed on the island to assist in crime fighting initiatives.

Channel 7

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Marty Offline OP
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Students and residents rally against crime wave at La Isla Bonita

rallyNo area of Belize is spared of crime, and in La Isla Bonita, youths joined other residents to rally against the crime wave. They came out this morning in large numbers under the scorching sun and took their message through the streets of San Pedro as they lashed out at the growing problem in that tourist destination. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting

The unyielding sun did not stop San Pedro residents, primarily students and neighbourhood watch groups from taking to the streets to display their utter displeasure with what they say is a growing crime rate on the island. Armed with placards denouncing crime and violence, youths from more than ten educational institutions marched from the old football field near the airstrip through the streets of San Pedro for an hour before returning to the same location for a rally. While marching may have been a welcomed ease from classroom work, Principal of San Pedro High, Emil Vasquez, says he feels the significance of the event will go a long way in he youths' own lives.

Emil Vasquez, Principal, San Pedro High School

"For our students we want to stress the importance of trying to live in a violent-free society, noh. We start from school trying to practice a violent-free community within the school. But obviously within the community in the larger scale we also need to teach them that. They want to live in a violence-free society."

Marion Ali

"How effectively do you think the march this morning will impact their personal lives?"

Emil Vasquez

"I think young people nowadays need the guidance. I think it is up to the community leaders to organize things like this for them to the way to go."

But while expressing one's opinion through action may be a good thing, for the families of murdered San Pedranos, the community also depends on the authorities to play their part before it causes a real dent on the fragile tourism industry.

Virginia Wallace, Relative of Murder Victim

"Related to John Saldivar, the one that got murdered in February last year. He was my son-in-law that was murdered because of the crime in San Pedro and all the things that have been going on in the island. So I really don't know how to express myself but San Pedro is getting very violent with young teens, youths and a lot of things on the island, people being assaulted and lots of violence on the island. I don't know what they can do about it. Some tourists have been attacked on the island, we know that, it's going to start affecting."

Maria Mai, Held Up at Work

"I was at work for Thanksgiving night like twenty to ten when this guy came in with a hat/cap and he actually came up to me with a gun. It was frightening but thank God nothing worse happened to me."

Marion Ali

"So he robbed you of?"

Maria Mai

"Well he went with all the cash from the cash register and my phone."

Marion Ali

"I'm sure you have a totally different perspective now on these types of crimes."

Maria Mai

"Yeah, every time somebody comes into the store I would always feel afraid. If someone strange comes walking up and down I'm always alert."

Virginia Wallace feels that although the economy is currently in dire straits, youths are involved in crime because they simply want to be.

Virginia Wallace

"It's just people who are lazy that don't have nothing better to do. For me they are lazy and they don't try to find a job, they just want to live the easy life and rip each other off and they just hand around doing nothing. If you really want you can get a job, even if it's a small little thing but you could still do it."

Meanwhile, Officer Commanding at the San Pedro Police Station, Superintendent Dennis Arnold, says they are doing their best with what they have to put a lid on crime on the island. He urges more people to assist the Police by forming neighbourhood watch groups in their areas. Marion Ali for News Five.

News Five would like to thank Coral Cable Vision of San Pedro for providing us with images of today's march and rally on the island.

Channel 5

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Marty Offline OP
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The San Pedro Town Council organized a march against crime on Friday, April 30, which gathered residents to show their stance against crime on the island. "Silence the Violence" is the message that Mayor Paz wanted to send out as she strengthened her stance of communication with all the neighborhood watch groups on the island.

"Today we are sending a message to the bad elements on the island that we are serious about combating crime," stated Mayor Paz. "We are sending a message to government that we need more support to fight crime and protect our community and the tourism industry."

With 12 neighborhood watch organizations on the island, members of these groups are urging residents to join and "Take back their neighborhoods" by pushing away the crime element with strong neighborhood watch programs. With a handful of groups showing much success in neighborhoods, it is possible to ward off the criminal element.

Mayor Paz was joined by her Town Councilors, staff, Hon. Manuel Heredia (Minister of Tourism and Area Representative), neighborhood watch groups and island students for the march around town.

Ambergris Today

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Residents march against crime

    On Friday, April 30th, Honorable Manuel Heredia, members of the San Pedro Town Council, members of neighborhood watches, hundreds of students and a few residents took to the streets in a stance against crime. Dressed in white and carrying posters depicting messages such as "Silence the Crime", "Stop the Violence", among others, they marched together, in an effort to bring a sense of community and solidarity against crime. The past few months had been especially rife with crime on the island, and residents and politicians alike have been feeling the heat.

    The march commenced at 8:30am from the old football field, progressed through the major streets of San Pedro and finally returned to the field at mid-morning. There, Mayor Paz, Honorable Heredia, Jan Brown and Scott Harnish took to the floor to speak to those in attendance on crime, unity, and the role of the neighborhood watches.

    Despite the poor turnout of the adult residents of La Isla Bonita, Minister Heredia was quite pleased with the turnout of the students for the walk. According to Hon. Heredia, criminal elements must be made aware that the future of the island, the students, the youth, are taking a stand and sending a message to them, and that message is that crime must CEASE and DESIST. When asked about what is being done to alleviate the crime problem, especially in this tourism destination, he stated that Tourism Police Officers are on the island to provide patrols on the beaches and heavily trafficked tourist spots. He is working diligently to ensure that these officers remain on the island and fulfill their duties.

    According to Jan Brown of the Escalante Neighborhood Watch (ENW), becoming involved in your neighborhood watch is very important. The various watches throughout the island have been very successful, and it is a show of solidarity and unity amongst neighbors. Coming together to battle crime is more effective than working alone. Since its inception, the ENW has succeeded in getting two guards on duty to patrol the residential neighborhood. At the rally, she spoke of a recent encounter wherein one of the guards caught someone trying to steal a golf cart. It is a prime example of what can be accomplished when people come together to work for a worthy cause.

    She challenged children to be diligent about neighborhood safety. Young children nowadays can text, call, capture images via phone, etc, and they can help in stopping crime when they put such technology to use. Anyone can help divert a crime. Calling 911 now goes directly to the local Police Station's line. Simply remembering to use this tool can be very effective in preventing crime. If there is no neighborhood watch in your neighborhood, Ms. Brown urges you to start one. All existing and successful watches are willing to give guidance so you can start one. It's just another step in combating crime on the island.

    Scott Harnish was another speaker at the after-march rally, and being part of the North Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch (NACNW) he has seen the success a working neighborhood watch can bring to an area. Hence he encourages people to become actively involved in their neighborhood watches. Meeting neighbors, supporting the police, reporting any suspicious activities, all these actions help in the fight against crime. As meetings are only once a month, residents should try to make the time to attend these very important get-togethers. Through these meetings, the NACNW has managed to create a phone tree, which brings neighbors together. They also have an air-horn system in place that will alert the entire community when there is a crime in progress (simply blow the air horn three times), and succeed in foiling criminals' attempts at break-ins and more. According to Harnish, it is all about getting acquainted with neighbors and participating. BE ACTIVE.

    He also invites members of the public to come out to the grand "barn-raising" style building of a substation up north in Tres Cocos on Monday, May 10th. This substation, much like the South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch (SACNW) sub-station, will house an officer who will be the go-to person in the area. He reminds the business sector of the ongoing efforts of the San Pedro Business Association to keep the Anti-drug and Belize Defense Force personnel on the island to assist the SPPD. In a population of easily over 20,000 people, 19 police officers are just not enough, and having the extra units on hand provides more safety for residents. Without community and business support, that project may just get pulled. To help this worthy cause, contact Amanda Syme or Chris Berlin at [email protected].

    Crime is everyone's problem, and everyone is asked to become active and participate. Report crimes, lend a hand when possible, and if you can, attend neighborhood watch meetings. It is up to us to regain the sense of community, that sense that no criminals should be allowed to take away.

San Pedro Sun

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