A week ago Caye Caulker was shocked by the brutal murder of one its beloved citizens, 51 year old Lurlene Young. Her throat was cut during a home invasion robbery. Today exactly one week later – residents on the island known for its easy-going way of life protested for peace. They did so in an anti-crime march through the island’s main street this afternoon. 7News was there as La Isla Carinosa united to say “enough.”
The posters and placards said it all… but louder than the posters was the show of strength in the numbers who marched this afternoon to take back their village which has been gripped by crime.
Charles Young Sr., Husband of Murder Victim
“I have kids, I have niece, I have nephews, I have a lot of friends and I don’t want to see it happen to anybody else again because it hurt. It really hurt. I would never want somebody to go through what I did; never.”
Guadalupe Madrill, Housewife
“I am a house wife, I am shaken you know and scared. We don’t feel safe anymore.”
“It’s terrible and it is really sad and that is all I have to say. There has to be done something. We have to stop this and it is a small island and so it should be easy, that is what I think to have control about this island.”
Diana Auxillou, Resort Owner
“It is us the citizens that are being killed in our homes. In this case with this lady, she is an innocent lady. She goes to work, she comes home and she is killed in her house before seven o’clock. This is not an incident that occurs at 3 in the morning where she is looking for trouble so to speak. So this frustrates me, it scares me, and it angers me in many many ways.”
Ralph Humes, Village Chairman
“There are many other crimes that took place on the island but not as bad as having someone killed and so with all the other little crimes that took place it took the initiative of the Neighbourhood Watch and other members of this community to say this is enough. This is enough, we want the crime to stop. We know all crime won’t stop but we would like to keep it as minimal as possible.”
Seleny Villanueva-Pott, Caye Caulker Neighbourhood Watch
“Last week was the last straw. Last week we lost a community member and if we don’t do something now it might just get worse.”
It was a march against crime but to a large extent it was also against the police because residents say they’ve lost all confidence in the police officers assigned to the island.
Tina Auxillou, Hotel Owner
“We find that the Police Department that is posted on this island doesn’t really contribute to help solving crime and in fact they become a bit of a problem on the island in the past.”
“I am disappointed about the police here because it seems like the entire village is aware of who the criminals are, exactly what’s happening. You can ask a ten year old who the dealer is on the island and they will know who it is and yet these people just walk the street. On the other hand they shake down people like tourists, they shake down other innocent or semi-innocent people for smaller things and the big crimes do not get solved.”
“I believe that the police force that we have here does not really work with the public, they work against the public. So I believe that we need to send a message, a clear message that they need to do some proper training. For example even with the crimes happening, we don’t really have, most of the crimes go unsolved. There is so much theft that’s happening on this island and the villagers, most of them know who the criminals are but they don’t seem to be going to jail, they don’t seem to be getting arrested, they don’t seem to be gathering enough evidence to convict these people. So it is just becoming a real serious problem on this island.”
Louis Aguilar, BTIA Branch Chairman
“We have been receiving a lot of reports from our BTIA members, from people who have been stealing from their properties, hoteliers, restaurants and stuff like that.”
Jorge Aldana, San Pedro Sun
“How has this been affecting the tourism industry on the island of a whole?”
“Well if you look around there are no tourists around here, you see only locals.”
But not everyone participated in the protest march. This group of residents say they didn’t march because the crime problem on the island has nothing to do with the police. They believe an ulterior motive is in play.
Allan Usher, Caye Caulker Resident
“I am an ex-drug dealer. I am an ex because I don’t do it anymore but when these people come and say that the police are not doing their work and the police is not doing what they supposed to do, I don’t really accept that because from the first day I came to Caye Caulker to til the last day I am here now is that people have been targeting the black people here.
What the people from here is doing that I know from the beginning is the people want mek a Spanish police come here who they can control the Spanish police in their station and send them after we the black people who nuh have nothing yah.”
But as many as 400 Caye Caulker residents did march and it caught the attention of the Police Department’s tough brass. Assistant Commissioner of Police David Henderson was on the island.
ACP David Henderson, Eastern Division Commander
“First of all you can’t say everybody bad. Not because one incident occurred you say you want everybody to go but at the same time as the person responsible for Eastern Division we will make the necessary inquiry, we will look at the situation, and we will do what is necessary.”
But Area Rep. and Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia who participated in the march apparently thinks it is. He says the police officers on the island will be replaced.
Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism
“I have already asked the Minister that I feel that if that is the request of the community, I support it 100%.”
“Have you been given a timetable as to when the officers will be changed?”
Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr.,
“Well not exactly but the Minister said in Tuesday’s Cabinet, just yesterday, I asked and he said definitely we are looking forward to see from which area we will get the people to move around but he did mention to me that in the consultation, people asked that all of them be removed and I totally will endorse them.”
“The Minister said he has already asked the Minister of Home Affairs to change the police officers. Do you think that will help?”
“Yes I am glad to hear that. I would like to see the police officers leave today and the new set come in so we can start working and cleaning up our island.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police David Henderson met with the Village Council and Neighbourhood Watch Committee following the protest. Senior police investigators were on the island today conducting interviews with possible witnesses in the murder. No arrest has been made for the murder but Crime Stoppers Belize today announced that there is a ten thousand dollars reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Lurlene Young’s killer. Michael Ashcroft is providing the money.
Source: Channel 7