TRINIDAD – Appeal for justice

Friends and family of the late Shannon Banfield stage march

PORT OF SPAIN –– There are still secrets to be revealed regarding Shannon Banfield’s murder, but her family has to trust in God and exercise patience as they await the findings of the ongoing investigation.

The call was made by Pastor Clive Dottin yesterday, even as participants in a peace march in Port of Spain reiterated calls for swift justice in 20-year-old’s killing.

Banfield’s mother Sherry-Ann Lopez also said she had left the matter in God’s hands.

Sherry-Ann Lopez, mother of murdered Republic Bank employee Shannon Banfield, places a stuffed toy at the entrance to IAM & Company on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, yesterday.

Following a two and a half hour long walk throughout Port of Spain, which was organised by Banfield’s close friends as well as former colleagues of Lopez from Pan American Life Insurance, Dottin expressed fear that “sometimes cases get cold”. However, he said just like the rest of Trinidad and Tobago, he too would have to trust in the police service.

Joining in the march, which began and ended at the Brian Lara Promenade opposite Republic Bank, Independence Square, around 3:15 p.m., were close friends, relatives and colleagues of Banfield, who donned t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Justice for Shannon”.

Led by Lopez at the front, the marchers linked hands and hugged each other as they walked.

Calling on the public to take responsibility for the indiscipline that currently pervades society, Dottin cautioned people to desist from a character assassination of Banfield by posting negative and demeaning remarks on social media. Pronouncing Banfield to be a “decent law-abiding Holy Ghost inspired citizen”, Dottin said Trinidad and Tobago had been robbed of “one of the brightest daughters”.

As the procession marched through the capital, many people stopped to shout words of encouragement and support while motorists honked their horns, and others crowded onto balconies and peered out windows.

Attracting the most attention as they linked hands at the corner of Charlotte and Park Streets, the marchers walked steadily to Pennywise, where Lopez sprinkled flower petals in front the store’s entrance before she entered the outlet and spoke briefly to manager Hema Cassie.

Spending less than five minutes in the store, Lopez joined with the others to publicly thank employees as she hugged Cassie and acknowledged their support and cooperation with the authorities.

As the procession walked to the nearby IAM outlet where Banfield’s body was found, street vendors called for justice and demanded those responsible be brought to justice. While Lopez remained composed as she sprinkled flower petals across the pavement in front of the padlocked gates, she had to swallow several times as she fought back the tears and offered prayers for her daughter’s soul. A pink and white teddy-bear was also placed on the pavement among the strewn flower petals.

While it was a similar scene at the IAM Frederick Street outlet, where flower petals were again sprinkled in front of the open doorway as people shopped inside, Lopez lifted her hands in the air, joining with the others calling for justice now. Urging the public to boycott IAM, the marchers then headed back to the Brian Lara Promenade where a final prayer was offered for Banfield before the crowd dispersed.

Banfield’s close friends, Christian Thompson and Christina Mc Gregor, explained that the call for yesterday’s march followed from their Facebook postings which sought to ensure Banfield’s legacy was not forgotten.

The two, along with Dottin, assured that yesterday’s march would not be a one-off and would soon be seen in other communities for those killed, missing and unaccounted for.

Yesterday, Lopez also revealed the IAM owners had not reached out to her since her daughter’s body was found at their outlet on December 8. She vowed never to set foot in the store again.

Asked for an update on the investigation, Lopez said, “We leave this matter in the hands of the police and we believe that justice will be served. The thing is that police are doing their work and we the family, must do our part”.

On what they were hoping to achieve through the march, she said “We want to say here that our children are not safe in the country. Something must be wrong, children must be safe.

Contacted yesterday, IAM owner Ishmael Ali said several efforts had been made through a third-party to meet with Banfield’s mother. However, he admitted it had not yet materialised and that he would be renewing attempts through close family friend, Pastor Moses, to meet Lopez.

He said the Charlotte Street outlet had remained closed since the incident and that he was in “no hurry to reopen”.

Acknowledging the presence of a 24-hour police surveillance team outside the store, Ali said while he continued to cooperate with the authorities, he also had obligations to the 100-plus workers. Extending condolences to Lopez and her family, Ali said, “I want to go and meet with them.”

Source: (T&T Guardian)

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