Russell Roberts has been in the media for two weeks making noise about the Reynaldo Verde case where an unlicensed firearm was found in the senior sales tax collector's home but he was never charged.
The file is with the DPP who has told the police to gather more information, and while they do that, Russell Roberts is gathering momentum. Other grassroots activists are latching unto his cause which has swelled into a gun law reform movement. Today at a Press Conference at the Radisson, COLA jumped on the bandwagon. Roberts made a public call to all those who've suffered because of the laws which impose mandatory remand for all offences.
Russell Roberts, gun law activist
"We are looking towards finding some of the victims that are affected by this law. I would offer my number to them, 620-7828 so that they could contact me. I could go and interview them and get some of their information and pass it on to the law. I want them to understand this is pro-bono; nothing will come out of their pockets for this."
"We are going to look into their cases and try to see how best we could assist them in their cause."
Geovanni Brackett, president COLA
"COLA will give its 110% support to Russell Roberts and we won't let a brother go out there alone. We would be there to see that this law, this law that we find that is destructive and barbaric to be amended or do away with."
"We condemn in the strongest term "selective justice." Justice for the rich must also be justice for the poor."
Delroy Herrera, activist
"We call for the immediate detention and charge against Mr. Verde. And if we have to march to get the immediate attention that this law and this situation demands then we are set to do that."
"If someone who is not of affluence or someone who is well politically connected gave the story that Mr. Verde gave they would not have been treated in similar fashion. But we also caution that we note that the way how the law is setup, people can be setup including Mr. Verde and COLA is not here to pronounce guilty on anybody, but we are also here to state categorically that the police are not to be the judge or the jury."
"Our advocacy is not personal, but we want justice. We want justice for everyone across the board."
Rufus X, COLA executive
"We talk about draconian law, this law is demonic. And if the cabinets are not sitting demons then they no other alternative than to visit this law and amend it. We are not even asking them to take the law away, we are asking them to amend it and take out the portion that affects citizen so drastically."
COLA also used the opportunity to comment on a media report that the Director Of Immigration Maria Marin has recommended the termination of three department staffers who were implicated in the Citizen Kim scandal. Sharon Neal, Erwin Robinson and Omar Phillips, are from the passport section. They were placed on suspension after the Citizen Kim scandal emerged because, according to information, they had processed the passport without all the requisite data. While we cannot confirm the report that Director Marin has recommended their termination, we do know that Elvin Penner, who, by his own admission saw to it that the passport was issued in a single day, feels they did nothing wrong. In early October, he wrote to us saying "I am certain that the officers did nothing but there job to the best of their ability and made sure that this gentle man was properly taken through the application procedures and given his passport before the end of the day." Of course, the statement is misleading because there was no "gentleman" to take through any application. Said "gentleman" was in a Taiwanese jail while Minister of State Penner was acting as his agent in Belize. All that said, COLA made the point today that the immigration officers can't get fired while Penner remains in cruise as a fully paid elected representative:...
"It is sad to see that in our country in this day and age a public official can feel that he can do something like that and get away with it without even giving in an explanation to the public. It is appalling to hear that the director of immigration is proposing that the 3 immigration officers that were suspended ought to be terminated."
"Now, the big fish gets to walk and the little fishes now will feel the full blunt of it. If those 3 public officers are terminated, we will go to the streets and we call on the public service union to find the testicular fortitude to defend your members. Those are not members of COLA, but we are going to defend them. Where is the NTUCB in this regard?"
And while the COLA President is quite hot under the collar, if indeed Marin has recommended the officers' termination, it's a very long process after that with the public services commission before any public officer can be fired.