Private charge filed against lawyer for alleged racist slurs at Policewoman
– DPP still to advise Police on charges
Attorney-at-Law Nirvan Singh was on Wednesday slapped with a private criminal charge for which he appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in that Georgetown Magistrate’s court.
The charge states that on March 20, 2022, at Middle and Cummings Streets, Georgetown, by means of words spoken by him in a public place, he willfully excited and or attempted to excite racial hostility and ill-will against Woman Police Constable Shawnette Bollers on the ground of her race as an Afro-Guyanese, by using words directed to her and published by him.
Bollers alleges that Singh referred to her by the following phrases: “black monkey”, “monkey”, and “black people have no purpose in life”. This, she contends, is contrary to the Racial Hostility Act.
After denying the charge, the lawyer was granted $100,000 bail, and was ordered not to make contact with, or cause anyone to make contact with, the Policewoman.
Singh’s next court date is May 18. He was represented by Attorneys-at-Law George Thomas and Damien Da Silva, while Attorney-at-Law Eusi Anderson appeared for Bollers.
In a recent letter to the editor, Singh, the son of former Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice (retired) Carl Singh, refuted the allegations levelled against him by Bollers.
Bollers alleges that, on the day in question, she was performing duties at Justice Singh’s Middle and Cummings Streets, Georgetown home when his son approached her and chased her out of the property, forcing her to abandon her post and duties. The Policewoman complained that in chasing her, the lawyer spoke to her in an “aggressive and loud manner”, while hurling several racist remarks at her. She said the tirade lasted for about 14 minutes, after which she left the scene and walked a couple of miles to another location in Georgetown in the dark of night alone.
But Singh has denied the allegations, stating, “I wish to say that the racist conduct of which I am accused in no way reflects my philosophy or personal values. More importantly, it would be an indictment on my parents and elders, given their efforts to ensure that my upbringing would produce in me a person of the highest moral, ethical, and professional conduct”.
Addressing his alleged attack on Bollers, he said that while he waits for the matter to be properly determined in court, he would strive to remain respectful and faithful to his values, to serve his clients from all walks of life with professionalism, and to use every opportunity to be of service or support to his fellow citizens, regardless of race, class, or creed.
The Policewoman has since filed a $150 million lawsuit against Singh. She argues that the words uttered by attorney Singh, in their natural and ordinary meaning, were understood to mean that she was not a human being, and by extension not worthy of recognition for her humanity or human dignity; was not a human being, but rather an animal; that her race was not worthy of respect; that her race is synonymous with, or akin to, monkeys of the black skin colour; that she is not professional, and not an individual worthy of respect, visibility, and human identity.
Bollers submitted that as a result of the slanderous statements, her reputation has been subjected to ridicule, and has been lowered in the estimation of right-thinking persons in society.
In support of her case, she said, she would rely on the fact that attorney Singh has failed to respond to her lawyer’s letter for an apology.
In a pre-action protocol letter to attorney Singh, Bollers’s lawyer wrote: “It is not my place to determine the truth of these allegations, that forum is a court of law. If, however, there is truth in one iota of them, I caution that speaking to brown and black people in that form was last appropriate about 400 years ago, and certainly not in the Decade of African People. That any person who speaks to a brown person in that manner in 2022, especially in your esteemed office, is both out of time by 400 years and out of place in an era where race is no longer a bastion of insult”.
The young lawyer’s alleged conduct, which has been the subject of media reports, has been met with condemnation from a wide cross-section, including the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R)— the largest party in the APNU-AFC Coalition. The party has called on the Bar Association of Guyana to publicly condemn the attorney’s conduct, as well as to impose fitting sanctions.
Guyana Times understands that the Police have conducted investigations into the allegations levelled against the lawyer, and a file has been forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for advice.