Keeping the peace with rubber bullets

If the Home Affairs High Command did not give the go ahead for the police to fire rubber bullets at protestors during what we are told was an illegal if peaceful post-elections protest then just who did  becomes an interesting question. Was it the act of a loose cannon or somebody trying to set up somebody else or was it just another manifestation of the known trigger-happiness of some of our policemen?

Now the Guyana Police Force is neither the most creative nor the cleverest national institution when it comes to justifying its actions. In the matter of the rubber bullets it has remained true to form. The Crime Chief has been bullish about the whole thing, defending the right of the police to maintain law and order and to keep the peace…though quite how firing rubber bullets into what, from all accounts, was a peaceful crowd constitutes maintaining law and order is something which the Crime Chief is probably incapable of justifying. Then there is this business of the injuries to Eddie Collins, James Bond et  al  being “unfortunate.”  Sometimes our boys in blue and black and khaki can be the source of the most acute embarrassment to themselves.

Perhaps Commissioner Greene or whoever was responsible for the choice of language in the rubber bullets issue might wish to tell us just what sentiment is being communicated in the use of the word “unfortunate.”  Is it that the police accept that they did something downright stupid? Is it that they believe that their actions were justified by the circumstances? Is it that they don’t give two hoots? Which is it? Or is it that they are simply trying to make fun of the rest of us as they usually do, blissfully unaware of the fact that the average Guyanese can match the police high command for smarts every day of the week and twenty or thirty times on Sundays?

Accountability is the key word here! Mr. Greene and his merry men know only too well that they can read us any fairy tale on matters like the Rubber Bullets Shooting because they have the last word in these matters. The police PR people who probably have a hearty laugh themselves when they are putting together these police press releases since they know only too well that they are under no pressure to defend what they say before a Commission of Enquiry. That, of course, is something which President Ramotar might wish to think about. Let’s bring on those police shooting investigations, those Commissions of Enquiry into police brutality and let’s see how Mr. Greene and his men stand up to tough and serious questioning. After all the top cop is an Attorney…isn’t he?

It’s a tough ask to run a democratic society with policemen who believe that the best way to defend that way of life is to use force against people who seek to exercise those rights that fall under the umbrella of democracy. OK, no one wants all hell to break loose in the Republic. On the other hand even if, as the police may well argue, the demonstration had not secured official permission, there has to be a more tactful way of handling it than shooting people with bullets, rubber or otherwise, particularly since such a course of action could easily have led to an escalation into just what we do not want in the first place…a general bedlam.

Having failed in his bid for the ruling Party’s presidential nomination Minister Rohee is back where he was and, where, presumably, he will remain for some time to come. We must hope that he brings new approaches to the table in terms of re-inventing some of the perceptions of the police as far as upholding the law and keeping order are concerned………the operative word there, of course, is hope.


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