GUYANA – Prison fire
Angry inmates burn newspapers to get attention
GEORGETOWN –– Pandemonium broke out in the Capital Section A of the Camp Street Prison about 7 p.m. yesterday as a result of the desperate attempts by prisoners to air their grievances to the media.
As part of their ploy to get attention, they began to burn newspapers in the Capital Section Block “A” of the prison. This resulted in officials from the Guyana Fire Service, armed prison officers and the Guyana Power and Light rushing to the scene.
While the fire, said fire officers at the scene, could have been worse, it was managed to be extinguished before it got out of control.
The Capital Section of the prison houses three blocks each of which has in excess of 70 prisoners. Most were shouting their stories.
The prisoners’ complaints included, unfair and inhumane treatment by prison officials and some police ranks, some of whom they say are favouring some prisoners over others. Allegations include prison officers being paid to set prisoners up and cause fights among one another.
“Dem does take out people from cells and let other prisoners beat them up in here.”
Some shouted their need for a more effective and efficient Director of Public Prosecution as they labelled her as unfair in the execution of her job.
They also sought to clear the air about the alleged gang fight which led to the wounding of Romel Ross last week Friday during a similar riotous scenario.
As it relates to that issue, the prisoners at the top of their voices debunked the story of there being a gang war in the prison.
“We ain’t got no gang war in here; some people got problems with one another, but is not no gang thing. Plus we ain’t do Romel nuttin.”
They alleged that contrary to reports, “Romel was tekking advantage of a boy, and the boy deal with he case”.
That wasn’t no gang nothing. The boy get tired of he tekking away he things and deal with he case,” one prisoner shouted with full endorsement from other prisoners.
Another issue raised by the prisoners was that they were not being fed on time.
“Since six we ain’t eat nothing.”
In their sharp boisterous swipes at the Director of Public Prosecution, they proclaimed their innocence and accused the authorities of bias against them because of their financial and social standing.
“Nuff of we innocent in here, DPP giving big ones attention and she ain’t got no respect for people like we. Some of we in here for as much as six years and no trial. That ain’t fair cause we got families. She got them running up and down behind she and she can’t make up she mind what she doing with we.”
They are calling for intervention on their behalf. They want early trials and proper investigations to be done by police as opposed to “forcing people to sign statements admitting to things, including murder that people ain’t do”.
They also decried the use of tear gas. Another issue that sparked the protest involved one prisoner who identified himself as Jermaine Otto. He said that he was in the jail for a murder that he did not commit and that a constable “wanted to take me to a strong cell for another prisoner to chop me up. He say how the OC want to see me, but I get to understand that it was a lie and he wanted to feed me to the prisoner”.
Last Friday, police and prison authorities were called out to quell a brawl between rival gangs in which inmates set mattresses alight. The brawl left a 19-year-old prisoner hospitalized with stab wounds.
The vendetta is said to be between inmates from Agricola and East Ruimveldt, and has resulted in at least two recent execution-style killings. Injured last Friday was remand prison Romel Ross, 19, of Agricola, East Coast Demerara.
He was rushed to the GPHC with what appeared to be multiple stab wounds, but did not appear to be in a critical state.
Relatives said that Ross had been in prison since January. He has reportedly been attacked twice before, and a relative said family had pleaded with prison authorities to have him isolated for his safety.
Kaieteur News was told that members of one gang had threatened to harm inmates from Agricola, and that this had stemmed from the recent murder of 23-year-old Kellon Hinds, called “Baige”, who was gunned down a few weeks ago in East Ruimveldt. He was killed hours after being released from custody.
Hinds himself was a suspect in the murder of Sherwyn Barrow, who was slain in “Warlock”, East Ruimveldt, last May.
Shawn Barrow, a relative of the slain Sherwyn Barrow, was charged two weeks ago with Kellon Hinds’s murder. He is currently an inmate at Camp Street.