Westminster woman alleges months of police harassment

—claims was strip-searched at gunpoint in her home

Sandy Akra

Sandy Akra of Westminster, West Bank Demerara, yearns for peace of mind in the midst of what she claims is continued harassment by members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

The woman, who turned up at Stabroek News on Wednesday, and recounted being strip-searched in the presence of male police in her home, said she feels as though her family is being targeted, as her home has been the subject of several raids by the police over the past few months.

Attempts to contact Divisional Commander Edmond Copper to ascertain whether any such raids were authorized proved futile.

She explained that the raids began in July, shortly after the death of Adrian Daly, the father of three of her five children.

 As reported by this newspaper, Daly, 40, was one of five men shot and killed, allegedly by police, on July 24, 2018, during an attempted home invasion at Turkeyen.

 According to Akra, since then her home has been raided three times by the police, who are yet to find any anything that can be deemed illegal on her property.

“They claimed that they received complaints from our neighbours; the first time they came was when he died and [they] come asking where the money deh, where all the US deh and then they come again in August say they come to carry out a search for drugs. I am a Christian woman, I don’t have drugs or money or guns,” the woman lamented.

Meanwhile, the most recent raid occurred during the wee hours of last Sunday, when several truckloads of police, allegedly clad both in police uniform and civilian clothing, showed up and demanded to search her premises.

 However, unlike previous occasions, Akra said several houses in her street were also subjected to the raid.

 “On Sunday morning we were awaken by police who come and start holler for us to tie up the dogs. They said if we ain’ hold the dogs, they gon shoot the dogs and then shoot up the house,” she related.

 “They come in and say [they] come to search for drugs and guns and ammunition; they even pull my eight year old off the bed because I told them I wasn’t going to wake her up. They pull her off the bed and continue searching the house. They tear up mattresses and tumble the whole house up,” she added, while noting that she was able to recognize one of the officers as one attached to the La Grange Police Station.

And while each raid leaves the family more traumatized than the last, Sunday’s raid was even more traumatizing for Akra, who also claimed that she, along with other women from the street, were forced to strip and lay on the floor of their respective homes in the presence of male police officers, all while guns were pointed at their heads.

“I was stripped naked in front of two male police officers and forced to lay on the floor while they hold guns to our head and tell us not to move,” a still visibly shaken Akra related.

“Another woman who went with me to make a report at Eve Leary was in her panties alone and had to lay on the floor too,” she added.

Stabroek News understands that the ordeal lasted for more than an hour, after which Akra’s two sons, ages 19 and 21, were taken to the La Grange Police Station for “profiling.”

She also explained that while one son was released on Sunday afternoon, the other was placed before the courts on charges of disorderly conduct and damage to property and was granted $30,000 bail.

The following day, the woman said she visited the Police Headquarters at Eve Leary, where they lodged a complaint and were told that the matter will be looked into.

“They tell we they gon look into the matter and they say it’s wrong what they did to strip us and in front of a set of men too,” Akra said.

“I need the police to leave me and my children alone, I am tired of the police harassment; I need peace, I am disgusted and sick and tired. I don’t think we should be victimized like this because he (Daly) already get kill, dead and done bury. This is all very embarrassing for me and my family,” she lamented.

 

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