Since the start of the week we've been reporting on the explosion of violence in the outside and this morning the police started doing something about it, something very serious. For the second time in two years, they have declared a southside state of emergency. The last time was in September of 2018, it covered 6 areas and lasted 30 days.
This one covers eight areas and it's in 8 areas all across the southside.
Cherisse Halsall was on the ground with the police this afternoon and has the full report.
Belize City is in a state of lockdown today and it's not because of the Coronavirus. Instead, a state of emergency has been declared in 8 areas to suppress criminal activity that surged in the last 48 hours.
Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Minister of National Security
"As you know there's been a recent increase in extremely senseless violence within the city. You know it's bad enough when somebody dies in a matter of violence, it is extremely extra painful when it involves the death of an innocent child. Based on those activities, the Ministry of National Security has deemed it necessary and sought the approval of the Governor General and we have gotten it, for him to declare a state of emergency and for his to sign some regulations governing the activities to the undertaking by the police, the BDF and Coast Guard if necessary in the declared and de-marked areas."
It's a response to 48 hours of violence which saw 6 people, including two five year old children, murdered and 8 others shot.
Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"Over the past few days we have seen that these activities have become more increased and the criminals seem to become more embolden in carrying out these senseless and heinous acts. It is reckless for one to just indiscriminately fire gunshots in a house not knowing who or what they're shooting at and when children are on the receiving end of those bullets, it is heart wrenching. I'm sure that all of us in this room are parents and we wouldn't want our children to suffer that faith but unfortunately it happened to some parents and we have to sympathize with them."
Those zones are as follows:
Marco Vidal - ACP, Commander of Operations
"Zone #1 will be all that area bounded on the east by City Street on the west by Central American boulevard and running north to south from the Belize River to Vernon Street encompassing all streets within."
"Zone #2 is all that area bounded on the east by Albert Street on the west by east collet canal, by cemetery lane and north by cemetery road and Orange Street encompassing all those streets within."
"Zone #3 will be all that area bounded on the east by Oleander Street, on the west by McKay Boulevard and running north to south from the Belize River to Mahogany Street, encompassing all streets within."
"Zone #4 is all that area bounded on the east by McKay Boulevard, on the west by Chetumal Boulevard and running north to south from the riverside street to Mahogany Street into holy Emmanuel Street, encompassing all streets within."
"Zone #5 is all that area bounded on the east of Western Avenue, on the west by Chetumal Boulevard, south by George Price highway and north by Mahogany Street and holy Emmanuel Street, encompassing all streets within."
"Zone #6 is all that area bounded east by youth for the future drive, south by Vernon street and City street and north by the Belize river, encompassing all streets within."
"Zone #7 is all that area bounded west by east collet canal, north by Belize River, east by west canal and south by cemetery road, encompassing all streets within."
"Zone number #8 is all that area of land bounded east by Central American boulevard, north by the George Price highway, south by Neal Penn road extension, west by Baldwin drive and all streets within."
And the Ministry of National Security is doing more than just sympathizing. Their operation started at 3 am and at this hour they've deployed 250 Police and BDF personnel and detainer 83 persons.
Compol Chester: The Time For Talking Is Over
And while the state of Emergency wasn't brought on by COVID-19 Commissioner Williams says it does contemplate the arrival of it - and the fact that very sick persons will need beds in the ICU:
Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"We have done a lot in terms of talking. CYDP have been extremely busy over the past few days trying to reason with these young men, bringing them to the table to reason with each other and goes through one ear, come out through the next. When they get back on the streets, they're back to their senseless behaviour. Well, I listened to a talk show this morning and I heard a good friend of mine said on that talk show that he believes that more could be done by talking. I don't know how long should we be talking, why should we be talking when children and innocent women are being shot and killed. Mr. Broaster can tell you, he has been talking from 1994 - we'll continue to talk for another 25 years while people are suffering, people are dying, I say no. The time for talking is done and so going forward, my message to the gang members is this, if you want to live in society peacefully, it is your duty to adjust to society behaviour and no the society to adjust to your behaviour and so we will be going after them, night and day. Mr. Vidal who is commander operations, have been tasked to oversee the day to day operations in Belize City where those gang members are concerned and the reason for that is because, we are not going to relent, we are going to make them understand that the society has gotten enough of them and as police, it is our duty to give the society that sense of safety and security that they so rightfully deserve and we will do our part to ensure that is done."