Broomes’ behaviour should not be tolerated – Jagdeo
Parking lot controversy
…Minister, driver questioned by Police
…Govt mum on fiasco
Five days after a parking lot fiasco, which led to the arrest of two security guards who were involved in a fracas with Minister Simona Broomes, the Guyana Police Force has finally confirmed that all parties have been questioned and official statements taken.
The disclosure was made by Crime Chief Paul Williams on Wednesday afternoon when asked by Guyana Times about the status of the investigations after the Minister, who is at the centre of the controversy, claimed that she was disappointed that the GPF issued a statement despite her not having a chance to submit an official written statement.
Broomes had claimed that she and her driver, whose name has not been officially released to the media to date, were the victims of verbal assaults and threats by
the security guards, who were attempting to bar her from parking in a specific section of the establishment.
The Minister with the Natural Resources Ministry, who is no stranger to controversy, had even alleged that one of the guards had pointed and “crocked” a firearm at her and the driver of her SUV vehicle at some point during the incident. She claimed that she was fearful for her life and safety as a result of the actions of the guards, who were arrested and detained by Police ranks following the incident for close to 16 hours before being released on their own recognisance.
On Wednesday, Williams said that the probe was still ongoing and that the Police were reviewing other portions of CCTV footage available from nearby and surrounding establishments.
“All parties allegedly involved would have been questioned and have to submit statements,” he confirmed before stating that the next step would see advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter.
Since the release of footage on Tuesday, it became clear that the version of the story told by Minister Broomes was different from what was depicted thereby forcing a tidal wave of criticisms and attacks against the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU/AFC) official on social media, with Guyanese accusing her of high-handedness and dishonesty. There have also been attacks on her integrity as more support and sympathy poured in on Wednesday for the guards, who it is being argued were “simply doing their jobs”.
Asked whether the Police have found any proof to substantiate the claims made by Minister Broomes that a gun was aimed at her during the ordeal, Crime Chief Williams declined to make any definitive pronouncement as he dodged the issue.
“I will not be able to share that information because we’re still investigating that part of it …We’re at the juncture now where we’re trying to look at all the footage [to ascertain what happened],” he related.
On Tuesday, a senior APNU/AFC Minister, Volda Lawrence apologised to one of the security guards who were part of the confrontation with Broomes. That Minister, in a social media post, had said that it was clear that the guard was “wrongfully detained”.
She said that “humility and character” were key traits that all Guyanese should endeavour to practise as she took another swipe at Broomes.
But Minister of State, Joseph Harmon when asked about Government’s response to the incident shied away from making any statement in support or against Minister Broomes or the security guards involved in the parking lot fiasco.
“That’s a Police matter that is going on and it’s inappropriate for a minister to get involved in Police work … when the Police finishes their investigation, then any form of action should be taken,” Harmon said.
Broomes has also been severely criticised by the political Opposition after the CCTV footage which surfaced after the incident showed the Minister and her driver attempting to run over one of the guards after they were debarred from parking in a strictly ‘no parking zone’ at the establishment.
The footage also appeared to be showing the Minister removing the ‘no parking signs’ before throwing them on to the ground during a temper tantrum. Both parties appeared to be aggressive during the confrontation.
The guards who now have the backing of the management of their security firm following the release of the CCTV footage have denied the Minister’s account of the matter.
Training for guards
Adding his take on the matter, Crime Chief Williams told sections of the media that he would recommend that security guards working in public places like the supermarket be properly trained, especially those carrying firearms.
“It is within your own judgement and sense, if you see a vehicle of a certain standard or class right there and then it speaks out to somebody. Even if you want to rate the person for whatever it is, whether the person is a drug lord, Minister or businessman, as soon as you see a vehicle of a certain standard, it supposed to arouse your attention and alertness,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo believes that the Minister’s behaviour if true was atrocious and should not be allowed to continue.
He said that the incident also pointed to the fact that sometimes people rush to judgement, referring to the unwarranted arrests of the two security guards at the Massey Store over the incident without properly investigating the issue thoroughly. He believes that the Police should be held responsible, given that they acted unprofessionally.