We now have had murder number 100 for 2020. It's a most unfortunate milepost - 99 homicides is surely nothing to celebrate - but police had hoped that, for the first time since 2015, they could keep the murder total in the double digits.
But, that won't happen and that's because gang violence in the city is raging. Now, under the Barrow administration that would be time to call a Southside state of emergency - but, the new government - which had criticised the SOE's as a knee jerk reaction for only short term success - is trying mediation - and enhanced policing. But, judging by the numbers, you'd be right to conclude it's not going so well.
Today in Belmopan, the Commissioner of Police spoke of the peace-making interventions that are ongoing- while gang members are also arrested:
Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"In terms of the gang flare-ups in Belize City, I can say that we have done a number of interventions and mediations through CYDP, and Brother Nuri. And while, yes, we have spoken to a number of these young men and tried other methods of trying to see how we can get them to understand the value of life, and to learn to see how they can forgive and forget, we continue to see that some of them are not heeding. They continue to demonstrate their willingness to participate in gang activities, shooting at each other, and the truth is, it is putting the people of the City in a very uneasy position. We are looking at ways to how we can address the issue. I will be meeting with my senior command in Belize City to see how we can re-strategize our operational plans for the city, to see how we can address the ongoing feuds in Belize City. You would know that just last week Friday, we had an incident in the Mayflower area where police officers ended up on the scene, and even they found themselves between a crossfire. A number of persons were detained. They have been charged. I guess Mr. Myvette is going to update you on those charges. The Anti-gang Task Force continues to develop cases against these gang members, and continue to charge a number of them under the gang regulations. They should be going to court today, and we're going to see what the outcome of the court is going to be. But, as I said, there is a need for us to be tough on these people who continue to demonstrate their willingness to participate."
And among those who he sees as willing are the PIV gang members - who got targeted in that fatal drive by shooting on Saturday night.
It's a major setback at peace-making, but the commissioner says he still believes in them - and he is determined to create peace - even if it means, quote, "plucking out the bad apples" - end quote:
Chester Williams - Commissioner of Police
"I am going to give credit where it is due. I can see that the crowd from the PIV area, particularly those who are involved in the hub that the US Embassy recently established for them, are trying their best to change their lifestyle and to be different. But, while they're trying to change their lifestyles and be different, the other side is coming and taunting them, and shooting at them. And so, something needs to be done. I see people complaining that the police this, the police that. Let me make it clear. The police is not the one shooting people. The police are the ones out there who are trying our best to see how we can address the issues or the violence that these people are perpetrating. You cannot expect to raise your child in such a way that he becomes a gang member or a murderer and expect that the police is going to change them, or expect the government is going to change them. I think that parents need to play a more active role, as well as girlfriends if it is that we want to see these young men change. And once we continue to live that lifestyle where the mothers and the girlfriends are condoning the illegal activities of these young men, they're never going to change because they do have support from people who supposedly love them. And so, for us, it is difficult, but we cannot give up. We cannot lose hope. I am pretty sure that very soon, some of them are going to get what they're looking for because we have to do something to pluck out the bad apples from among the good ones. And that will come very soon. No one can say that we had not tried other avenues."