Quite recently by happenstance I picked up the Stabroek News edition of Monday, January 26, 2009, realizing that I hadn’t seen one before. I began browsing through it and came across a rather intriguing and bitter letter: ‘The story of Michael Jules aka Porridge man’ by Barrington Braithwaite. I feel that a story like this in times like these needs to be retold for the benefit of those who might have missed it, as I had.
Braithwaite’s account of what transpired in 1990 and how ‘Porridge man’ met his death was most frightening and sent shivers up my skin − even now. Because according to Braithwaite – and I am in agreement with him – where the Guyana Police force from 1990 to now is concerned, it is only the frame which has been changed, not the picture. He states, “…the system had captured troubled, unbalanced personalities, and created soulless mass murderers out of them.” Barrington Braithwaite in graphic form told us policeman Leon Fraser and his four squaddies visited Porridge man. Fraser and his squaddies, according to the story, were just a bunch of ruthless criminals in police uniform ‘on the take’ who indulged in extortion, no different from the people they executed. After Fraser shot Porridge man in the back of the head while in a kneeling position in front of his reputed wife with the 5 children outside, he took a bag containing money, jewellery and ganja; the others stripped his wife of the gold jingles she was wearing and took a gold chain belonging to one of the children. Isn’t this the same thing that is reported about criminals who enter homes to kill and rob? Exactly! No wonder there is so much hatred. This land is ‘bleeding with hate’ for the many wrongs of yesterday.
Braithwaite further told us about a conversation with Fraser, who admitted executing criminals on the jetty (seawall) after a senior officer told him “they were disposable.” Then finally says Braithwaite, “This is only the tip of the iceberg from what I learnt later about the disturbed personalities and troubled backgrounds of some members of those police groups.”
What is also a sick revelation was that within one year of the incident, Fraser and the four, along with other rogue cops were thrown out the GPF but were taken back in when the PPP came into office in 1992, and were even rewarded; some were promoted and are still serving!
Mr Editor, my mind is still reeling from this letter; why are stories like these left to fade out? What of all our concerned and decent people, all the organizations, political parties for democracy, human rights, morality, domestic violence and child abuse? What of all the respected and upright members of the judiciary, the interpreters of the law, isn’t there a single one to speak out to follow through, my God! Stories like these in other countries make books, movies and win awards.
This was certainly one to cling to, or have we seen so many that we have now become indifferent? No wonder from Monica Reece to now there have been so many ‘unsolved murder mysteries’ and endless other criminal cover-ups. But we must understand that when Barrington Braithwaite writes with Lindo Creek killings in mind, “public confidence in the justice administered under this political authority has been erased,” he has echoed the voices of all sections of the poor and dispossessed who are fully aware that the GPF does not work in their interest.