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Guyana: Seeking Justice for 17-Year-Old Victim of Police Shooting

Today [18 September, 2012] marks a week since 17-year-old Shaquille “Georgie” Grant was killed as a result of a police shooting at a shed on Third Street, Agricola. 20-year-old Romel Bollers of Brutus Street, Agricola was wounded in the incident and he, along with a few other men, were held in police custody for questioning.

The police claim that a shot was fired and that they were simply returning fire – but this version of the events was contradicted by an anonymous eye witness who was contacted by the Alliance For Change (AFC) leader Nigel Hughes, who posted the testimony on his Facebook page:

After I heard the gunshots, I went back to peep and I saw the same boy who was crying before, lying motionless. The police were still standing over the men.

There was one police officer who was very agitated. The rest of the police officers were saying to him ‘humble yourself, calm down.’

While the boy was crying out, the policeman said to him ‘you ain’t dead yet’

Two young boys ran out from an apartment. The police put the other two boys to lie on the ground. They ran out after the shots were fired.

According to family members, Grant planned to join the Guyana Defense Force after his 18th birthday, which ironically, would have been the day after he was killed. A post mortem on Grant's body revealed that he was shot three times – through the head, heart and buttocks.

Mainstream media in Guyana posted news reports about the shooting on YouTube: here, Grant's friends Troy Greenidge and Jamal Henry recount their experiences; here, AFC leader Nigel Hughes holds a press conference with the mothers of the two boys who were shot. This news clip shows protests outside the Brickdam Police Station:

The Guyana Youth Student Movement released a statement condemning the shooting:

 The youth arm of the People’s National Congress Reform, the Guyana Youth Student Movement (GYSM) is horrified at the Tuesday 11th September 2012 gunning down of 17 year-old Shaquille Grant. The Agricola East Bank Demerara shooting is alleged to have been committed by a member of the Guyana Police Force. It comes on the heels of the anniversary celebrations of the People’s Progressive Party’s so called ‘youth arm'.

The organisation also noted that this shooting was not without precedent:

The Tuesday 11th September 2012 killing also brings back chilly memories of the June 7th 2010 gunning down of 16 year-old Kelvin Fraser by a rank of the Guyana Police Force, the December 6th 2011 shooting of APNU officials and supporters by ranks of the Guyana Police Force and the July 18th 2012 killings of three Lindeners by ranks of the Guyana Police Force. It must be noted that in every shooting incident mentioned, youths were either put at risk, badly injured or killed. The GYSM condemns such heinous acts; the senseless killing of our youths must end now!

One Voice Can Win saw the latest shooting as an indicative of an out of control police force:

It is clear to OVNN that chaos exists in the Guyana Police Force. As the Ministry of Home Affairs continues to limp along with a now defanged Minister in whom the public has already declared no confidence, Police Commissioner Leroy Brummel seems to be incapable of seizing control of the errant ranks within the force who continue to wreak havoc on innocent citizens.

In a follow up post, One Voice Can Win called for major overhaul of the Guyana Police Force and criticized Police Commissioner Leroy Brummell‘s statement that Grant may have been “in the wrong place at the wrong time”:

 I hope that I never happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I hope that God grants me the wisdom to know where that place is. Enshrined in our constitution are certain basic rights to life and liberty, and one should feel free to engage in the activities of daily life anywhere and at anytime without the threat of summarily execution or murder by police. Acting Commissioner of Police Brummell showed grave insensitivity when he said that Mr. Grant was at the wrong place at the wrong time; how could he make such a pronouncement when the investigation is still ongoing? And how does such a careless remark not influence or taint the proceedings?

This past Sunday, one of the country's newspapers reported that an Agricola bus driver who is a accused of being linked to the police actions has gone into hiding after his car was burned. He is alleged to be a relative of one of the police officers involved.

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