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Protest for Palsow Plaza Name to be Changed

It is not uncommon to find buildings named after heroes or influential people in society.  As a matter of fact, it is a practice carried out around the world.  Today, in Belize, however, there were objections to the renaming of the proposed building at ground zero, the Paslow Plaza.  If you know your history, you will know that Paslow was a slave master and the previous building that sat on that land at the foot of the Swing Bridge was named after him and ironically, housed several courtrooms as well as the post office.  A group of protesters think it’s a bad idea to give Paslow the glory and as such they gathered at the site this morning.  Reporter Naim Borges has the story.

Reporter: “The Paslow building was built in the 1920s on the corner of Queen Street and North Front Street but unfortunately it was burnt down in the September of 2002. The building was built after Thomas Paslow a slave master who mutilated and abused his slaves. The building is currently being reconstructed after it was burnt down. However, the people of Belize are dissatisfied with the decision to rename it Paslow Plaza. Today a group of protestors gathered in front of the construction site for a demonstration and this is what they had to say.”

Protestor: ““I must be a truth-teller and so I say it is the attitude of our people, it is the mindset of our people. I have to call them out, we can’t keep blaming other people black people for the state of black people. In 2003 September when crime, when  UBAD and World Garifuna Organization had the black summit for them to look at the state of black people. These are the kinds of conversations that we need to have about our stories. Today we are going to launch a petition and that petition is going to be on the ground and online. I want it to go throughout the whole country and we talk about telling our stories, we are asking people to sign if you agree that this place should not be called Paslow Plaza. It is not us that came up with the name 1919. In having the conversation on Facebook someone from the community said that they recommend that they call it the 1919 Plaza. That comes from the community, that does not come from us so it is absolutely very important that you understand that this is not a one time hit moment. For the whole year we are committed that we must make just like our ancestors in 1919 made the British enslaver get the sense that it is them that run things here.”

Reporter: “At the heat of the protest a Belizean was walking along with an international visitor and when asked what is happening the Belizean who was with him said that he doesn’t know and probably that it wasn’t important, therefore we wanted to see what the people on the streets had to say.”

Voice 1:“I guess every architectural project has to have this bylaw and I was very taken aback that they would call something like this Paslow or any other slave masters name or enslaver of black peoples names because we are an independent country so my hope as an artist, as a Belizean, as a black woman would be that we look for independence and not for colonial practices. Many things are Belizean like the Maya, we could have named this off Marcus Canul, we could have named this Elfrida Reyes, we could have named this Nora Param. There are so many Belizeans from antiquity that we could have taken but why would you take and enslaver of black people, a mutilator of black people.”

Voice 2: ““The Paslow building used to be the post office and also it used to be a court. I don’t remember at this time but I know they are going to put it back as Paslow building. I know it used to hold slaves and it makes you feel bad because at the end of the day slavery was abolished in Belize so I don’t think we need that back again.”

Voice 3: “What I remember of Paslow building is that it was a place that you had some government offices and if I remember right you had the post office there. I remember going there one time that if you wanted a piece of land that is where you go and apply. I think they should put the same name on it because of the person who actually had something to do with that building so I think they should continue to use his name.”

Voice 4: ““I know it was originally the building for the old post office before it burned down and it was named after a slave master so I know there is a lot of tension in regards to the naming of the new building as Paslow again but honestly I think it should not be renamed Paslow. There are a lot of Belizeans who have done great things and have contributed to their society so why don’t we use Antonio Soberanis or some other Belizean who has contributed to our society rather than a slave master. I mean yes it is a part of our history but we have a lot more things to celebrate than Paslow who was a colonizer at that time.”

Reporter: “The group of protestors hopes that the Government will listen to what they have to say and eventually take action. Reporting for Love News I am Naim Borges.”

Up to news time, the authorities had not responded on whether they will consider the points brought forth by the protesters.//////