Belize: Special Envoy calls on police department to provide training for security of LGBT community

Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Barrow posted a statement saying, quote,"Watching that video breaks my heart - it shows we have ways to go. Violence of this kind has no place in our society. The person attacked should have been offered protection and support by the police, why didn't this happen? Do we need to do a training sessions for our police officers on handling these situations? On how to address security for LGBT community?....Was a choke hold necessary? Is a slap to someone who poses NO THREAT at all warranted?"

All hell broke loose onboard a water taxi on Sunday afternoon loaded with passengers returning to the city from the popular Lobster Fest held in Caye Caulker. The brouhaha soon became violent and a young police officer was removed from the water taxi and subdued by another officer as he fell unconscious. To make a bad situation even worse, homophobic insults were hurled at PC Ralph Gillett. Today, the police said it is investigating whether excessive force was used to restrain Gillett. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

A cell phone video showing a police officer in a rear naked choke hold and a boat filled with passengers, laughing and hurling homophobic comments at PC Ralph Gillett, went viral over the weekend. So did this one,  a video taken prior to the arrest of PC Ralph. It shows a violent brawl inside a San Pedro Belize Express water taxi a few minutes before the vessel departed Caye Caulker Village.

The physical confrontation was visibly between Gillett and a couple of women and it was over available seating on the boat. But it quickly escalated to a physical fight on board. The crowd was happy to see PC Gillett subdued, throwing homophobic remarks.

Caleb Orozco, Executive Director, UNIBAM

“The thing that disgust me about this case, the thing the riles me up is that the officer chokehold, in this case rendered a fellow officer unconscious , separately another officer slapped he in his head while he was unconscious. How can you show solidarity for a mob who was calling for the lynching of a person based on sexual orientation? The idea that an LGBT person and effeminate gay men should have no feelings, should tolerate disrespect from somebody who by the way was drinking.”

Edward Broaster, Deputy Commissioner (Operations)

“Maybe you saw a different video from what I saw. I saw blows being hurled back and forth both by the officer in question and members of the public. As it pertains to the chokehold, we have not sanctioned that particular defense technique. Nevertheless the officer that hit him after will be dealt with disciplinary wise.”

The women who are seen in the video hitting PC Gillett were allowed to leave. From what we have heard, the Belize City women have yet to be questioned by investigators.

Caleb Orozco

“I have a question around that because if you have not demonstrated any common sense about bringing all parties together to get an understanding of what has happened why shouldn’t I call you out on your lack of common sense and ineptitude in your investigation process. Separately why is you as the ASP or in this case as the person in charge of Caye Caulker, why should you take is so personal that you don’t see it fit to bring in the witnesses who were there to explain what happened and threatened them to jail them for trying to explain what was happening. That to me shows that this man is so inept at his job he needs to be removed or relieved from his job at minimum.”

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