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Editorial: When Will This Brutality End?

POLICE poured hot sauce in a man’s eyes for a crime he was never charged with. That’s the allegation from Kenton Fines, who claims he was brutalised by officers he says searched his home without a warrant.

If something about that mention of hot sauce sounds familiar, you might remember an incident we reported in February 2019, when three people were reportedly bound and beaten by officers, as well as being fish-bagged, waterboarded and, yes, having hot sauce poured into their eyes.

When a police complaint was filed in that case, the complainants were told that too much time had passed for their case to be dealt with – even though they showed up right away at the first request from police. It was police that took too long to deal with it – not the complainants.

Readers of The Tribune will be familiar with claims of police brutality. At Junkanoo at the end of last year, for example, a video circulated showing police officers clubbing civilians with nightsticks. Another video showed a teenager being slammed on the ground by a police officer at Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium. There was a story in August 2019 of two women who claimed they were assaulted by police in Exuma. Another video in April 2019 showed an officer slapping a man on a beach. A month before that, The Tribune published photographs of a man being taken to an ambulance from the Central Detective Unit amid claims he was shocked with a taser and beaten by several officers while in custody.

The list has now been added to by the case of Kenton Files. You can – and should – read his story in today’s Insight.

Officers reportedly searched his home, found nothing, kicked him in the throat, threatened to water board him with ammonia, then later in the police station put a fish bag on his head filled with hot sauce… does this sound familiar?

Mr Fines reported the matter to the police complaints unit in February 2018 – he has seemingly never received a response to any of his letters other than an acknowledgement of the receipt of his complaint.

If this is true, this is not a police action, this is criminal behaviour. Anyone doing this is a criminal in uniform, and they demean the uniform they wear by their actions. Any officer tolerating such actions is betraying the force’s bond with the people of the nation. Let’s say this plainly, this kind of behaviour if true is torture, nothing less. It’s not just the kind of thing that should bring assault charges, it’s the kind of action that is banned internationally. If a soldier did this on the battlefield, he’d be charged with war crimes.

The failing is not just on the part of the officers who allegedly commit such atrocities. A failure by the police complaints unit to deal with cases such as these is completely unacceptable. For such an action to take place might be the fault of an individual officer, but for it not to be taken seriously and officers to be held accountable by the force shows a tacit acceptance of such tactics. This is not a one-off event, this is institutionalised brutality.

There should never be an occasion when officers resort to torture – whether someone is guilty or as in this case is never even charged. The question is, what will the force do to deal with such cases? To deal with such crimes?

Commissioner Paul Rolle promised change back in June of this year with regard to dealing with breaches of discipline. It’s about time we saw some.

Help for all

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis dangled a dream on Friday to those who don’t have their own homes.

Young professionals could buy land from the government for $50,000 that is worth $150,000. It will be Crown Land made available to give those young people a head start. They would also be able to build duty free. Dr Minnis said: “Crown Land is really the people’s land, it’s not individuals’, it’s the people and we just want to ensure that the people receive their land.”

We are sure those who can afford the $50,000 will be very thankful, but what about those who can’t?

It’s a head start indeed for those already able to put a foot on the ladder, but those who can’t still lag behind.

We don’t doubt this will be helpful to some – but we also need to keep finding a way to lift up those Bahamians who are most in need. What comes next for them, Dr Minnis?

Comments

DDK 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Comment to the first editorial. They are monsters in uniform whose abhorrent criminal behaviour is sanctioned by successive prime ministers. As to the second, give us a break millionaire pm. Everyone has access to fifty grand. Is this guy for real? That is actually an insulting offer to the vast majority of Bahamians.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

They will do something with a parliamentarian's son is waterboarded. Not to be callous but look what it took for the PM to understand the mental strain his inappropriate punitive use of lockdowns was having on young and old

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mandela 2 months, 2 weeks ago

With thousands multiplied lining up for free food, no jobs, banks not lending money unless you are buying a car or you have the equal equity of the loan, WHO are these properties for? The young people who make up the majority of workers all over this country and making maybe $250.00 weekly or less than $1000.00 a month would also like to own a piece of this rock we call our Bahamas. Dear Mr. PM blaa blaa blaa blaa.

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FrustratedBusinessman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"When Will This Brutality End?"

Never.

In response to the second column, the government can't help everyone. Bahamians need to start looking at things from a personal responsibility standpoint instead of a wait and let the government fix everything for me standpoint (which they never will).

Young Bahamians need to start learning applicable skills to start businesses with and generate their own wealth, and not go off to school for four years just to get a generic degree. There are a limited amount of industries here, which makes it even more important to ensure that you specialize in the right field.

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Porcupine 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The government can't help everyone"? So, let's just focus on helping those who are in our own class, to say nothing of those who really need the help. I agree on the personal responsibility argument. However, if you have been paying attention, in our lifetime millions upon millions of people globally have been pushed into poverty through no fault of their own. It is fairly well proven at this point in time that the great and growing economic inequality that exists in the world has everything to do with taxation and the inherent, yet predictable, flaws and weaknesses of capitalism. I'm sorry frustrated, I just don't buy the crux of your argument. Governments are formed to protect and foster the common good. We have simply gotten used to governments operating solely for the benefit of the rich and powerful, while giving the finger to the vast majority of people. The will of the people has no bearing on any government in the world. I wish all we had to do was to get people to act responsibly. But, the reality is that the deck is stacked against us.

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FrustratedBusinessman 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Trust me, I agree with the fact that this government (and to be quite honest, most others around the world) has an unsettling trend to care for the most well off while neglecting those suffering the most. Maybe I should have reworded my point to mean that it certainly can't fix everyone's problems.

You know how it is with many Bahamians too; they don't just want help, they want everything given to them by the government. Bad mentality to have, which is why I think our culture definitely needs an overhaul when it regards personal responsibility.

Yes, our financial systems will collapse eventually, which is why so many of these world leaders/international financers are pushing the "Great Reset". Society would reset on its own if left unchecked, so they are trying to run a controlled version. Things look bleak for the future at times : rising population will only drive increased competition for limited resources, automation will continue to displace unskilled labourers, more and more will get trapped in inescapable debt, etc.

When it comes to helping our population out, it is important to remember too that we don't have the economy of a nation like Canada that could run CERB for basically three quarters of a year, we would bankrupt if we ever tried that. There are certain limitations, but more definitely needs to be done. We have to be careful even regarding changing our tax system, we are heavily dependent on FDI. One wrong move could send us into further economic shock. The deck certainly is stacked against us.

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Porcupine 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree, You are right, and I especially appreciate the civil dialog with you on this..

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SP 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The PM is 100% responsible for police brutality, period! Successive PM's sanctioned police goons & brutality. Nothing has changed.

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