Grenadians are voicing their concerns about what appears to be excessive use of force by certain members of the Royal Grenada Police Force.
This follows a highly publicized incident at the St. David Police station where it is alleged that Canadian citizen of Grenadian parentage Oscar Bartholomew was brutally beaten in the head, leading to his death hours later at the general hospital.
Lyn Mitchell, who calls herself an advocate for youth wants to see an end to police brutality and wants to stage a youth demonstration against it.
“I am looking for the government of Grenada to do something…to step up and if they do not set up, I would call on all the youths of Grenada to have a massive demonstration.”
Tennil, a young public servant is advocating for more legal training for members of the police force. According to her they seem unaware of the local and international laws as it relates to the rights of individuals.
“I think that they need more training on human rights and more about international law and the local law; because right now they’re not applying themselves at all.”
Elizabeth Alexander, a mother who said her son was a victim of police brutality one year ago is calling for the removal of officers from the force who she says “are not qualified enough to protect and serve the nation”.
She says in her opinion, they do not know how to keep the laws of the state and as such should not be allowed to remain on the force.
Some youth have also expressed concern over what they have described as ‘disturbing’
“I’m just really disturbed,” said one young man. “I don’t know if they know the laws; I feel they need to check up on the [law] books.”
But Junior Information Minister Senator Glen Noel is calling the incident an isolated case. He was part of an official government delegation, lead by Security Minister Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who visited Bartholomew’s mother and sister on Wednesday.
“This is a very isolated matter that affects everyone,” Noel said.
He added, “We have had a very good Christmas season so far. There have been very few incidents of any crime at all.”
He is appealing for calm adding that all resources are going to be used to ensure that justice is served.
“The government is providing all the institutional support to ensure that this occurs.”
This is not the first time an individual in police custody here has died.
Approximately three months ago, a mentally deranged man was shot and killed by police of the St. David police station, while they were attempting to arrest him for endangering the lives of others. Over two years ago, a young man was shot and killed by police in St. George’s while allegedly resisting arrest. There have also been sporadic reports of unprovoked police beatings of persons in custody.
In most of these instances investigations were said to have been launched but nothing have come out of the investigations.
Last week there was another outcry of excessive use of force, when police in riot gear were called out to forcibly remove protesting workers from the entrance to the factory of the Grenada Breweries to allow delivery trucks to leave the compound.
Minister for National Security, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, shortly thereafter issued a statement saying that he didn’t authorize the use the riot squad against the workers.