"Chicken Dread" Defiant - 12/19/12 01:57 PM
For some years now Paul Ferguson known as "Chicken Dread" has been selling fried chicken on the sidewalk across from the commercial center. It's the epicenter of the Albert Street action - and that's where he puts his deep fryer to lure in pedestrians with that unmistakable fried chicken aroma.
But according to City Hall, that aroma - or the fumes from it - has been causing public complaints - and this afternoon Ferguson was shut down. 7news was there and we got both sides of the story:
Jules Vasquez Reporting
His bowl was full of fried chicken his deep frying still bubbling but Paul Ferguson had to go - police and city constables were there to remove him.
Ferguson didn't seem the least bit intimidated; the devout PUP supporter says he's being persecuted because of competition:
Paul Ferguson - Being Removed by City Hall
"He has his dirty restaurant in the Commercial Center which is not making any money, so he is just jealous that I am out here selling chicken. Everybody buys my chicken."
"How long have you been out here selling chicken?"
"I am out here for years, at evening time. It's Christmas time, so I came out here in the afternoon. I am not obstructing justice; I am not obstructing the sidewalk. Look how many people are selling food on the sidewalk? They hate to see me out here. But, you can't keep a good man down. Who God bless, no man curse. They are nothing to me. Now, he wants them to arrest me."
"On what charges?"
"Insulting words, how petty - insulting words, that's how petty he is."
But the Mayor - who became aware of it after we inquired - says it's not petty or political at all:
Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council
"Under my watch and my leadership, we have taken deliberate steps to be apolitical. We've tried to apply our policies and rules across the board. The issue with peddler is that we had received complaints in relation to certain health issues, and in relation to the locality in which that person is. Again, this is not something that I deal with myself. I've been briefed by persons who are in charge of this section, and they had indicated that they had received complaints in terms of smoke, in terms of the preparation of food, and several different issues. And, if this person was not asked to move, or move by the City Council, the Public Health Department would have asked the person to move also."
But Ferguson made an emphatic grandstand - and as police and city constables stood around - eventually bringing some closure:
And so after much fuss and fuming, exciting public interest and sympathy, eventually….he counted his money handied it to his sister and started packing things up and cleaning up - still with a defiant cry
"Don't worry people, I'll be back. This is only temporary."
And as he left in a police vehicle:
"I am a soldier. I stand up for what I believe in, and they won't stop me. I will be back."
But the mayor says not if he has his way:
"It's not that we are telling the person that he cannot open anywhere; he cannot operate as a peddler. We just don't want that person to be where that person is, and if that person is choosing to sell food to the public, he needs to meet a basic set of standards that's not prescribed by the City. It's prescribed by the health professionals. But the reality that any persons who vendors, has to maintain a minimum health status, in terms of how they prepared food, and how they conduct themselves on the street. And of course, we have to move to a policy, where we try ot discourage street side vendors."
"He's been there for a while too. He's been there for years."
"No, but Jules, a lots of things are going to come from the City Council that people do not like."
Paul Ferguson was charged for insulting words and he was released on sign-bail.
Ever-defiant, he is back at the same spot this evening.