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ComPol condemns excessive force used by officers in protest

Police officers at the scene of the protest were called out for using excessive power during a peaceful protest. Rubber bullets and tear gas were used, injuring many of the protesters.

Police officers at the scene of the protest were called out for using excessive power during a peaceful protest. Rubber bullets and tear gas were used, injuring many of the protesters. Today, the Commissioner of Police spoke with the media that it was not unusual for the police to be at the scene, but stated that his directive was to allow the protesters to continue peacefully.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: The police duty is one of ensuring that law and order is maintained and so police were deployed and the instructions from me was that the people must be allowed to dissent so long as they’re doing so peacefully and later on as the day progresses I was briefed that the company was about to issue the termination letters and so I had been very much busy today dealing with different situations so I directed the commander of Eastern Division to speak to the management of Port and to ask them if they can delay the issuing of those letters for the simple fact that the people were agitated and so to have served or issued the letter at that particular moment would have caused more agitation which could have eventually evolved into a riot. I was later on briefed by Mr.Dawson that the management decided that they were not going to go along with our suggestion that they were going to still issue the termination letters. Now I would have wanted to believe that as the police on the ground seeing what was happening and the volatile nature of the situation that the management would have at least sided with us to say you know what mek we just hold back a bit and wait until cooler heads prevail before we proceed with the issuance of the termination letters. Well subsequent to that later on I was again briefed that management decided that they were going to send the termination by way of text message to those who were being terminated and that was done. Eventually I was briefed that Port had ceased operation for the day and everybody was sent home but stevedores and employees were still in the area dissenting and so the Port of Belize wanted the police to move the people off the compound and so I said to the Commander of Eastern Division my position is that once these people are on the compound and they are peaceful then let us allow them to express themselves peacefully, they will not stay there all day they have to leave to go home. After I gave that directive to the commander I also communicated with Mr.Hyde who is the President of the CWU and I told him that we were going to allow them to remain on the grounds providing that they remain peaceful.”

The ComPol then condemned the actions of the officers who used unnecessary force.