Naked in the lock­ups: Frus­trated mother of five be­moans po­lice bru­tal­ity

Stabroek News Sunday - - WEEKEND MAGAZINE -

“I feel really bad and frus­trated about this whole thing, me nah know why de po­lice would do some­thing like dah to me. And me get chil­dren, bear girl chil­dren and fuh dem to know dah is wah I guh through is nah easy. Mom leh me tell you some­thing I ain’t really feel­ing righted now.” And Alisha Harry be­gan to sob. I first read of Harry’s hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ence at the hands of ranks of the Guyana Po­lice Force in the Guyana Times and to say I was shocked is an un­der­state­ment. This woman was stripped naked and made to spend sev­eral hours in a dirty cell at the Rose Hall Po­lice Out­post.

I made con­tact with the 36-year-old mother of five daugh­ters via tele­phone be­cause I wanted to hear from her. I was pained and trou­bled by what I had read. At the end of our con­ver­sa­tion I re­gret­ted call­ing her be­cause of how af­fected she was by the in­ci­dent but also by her trou­bled life ex­pe­ri­ences, some of which she shared.

Harry spoke in a some­times in­co­her­ent man­ner and sobbed through­out the con­ver­sa­tion and as a re­sult I was not able to cap­ture ev­ery­thing she said.

“Right now, me pres­sure raise. I not eat­ing mom. I can’t eat. This thing really get to me. But I have to try be­cause me chil­dren have to go to school be­cause I want all a dem to have a ed­u­ca­tion,” she said.

Her daugh­ters’ ages range from 16 to four years old. The last two are twins and do not have the same fa­ther as their older sis­ters.

“You know how I feel to sit on dah nasty ground naked...? she asked in tears. I could not an­swer her and I tried not to imag­ine. “I try not to sit down but me foot been a swell up be­cause the gate fall down on it and dem po­lice beat me up and I had to sit down. I couldn’t stoop down be­cause de pain too much, it too much you hear me,” she cried.

Harry’s or­deal started at around at around 7 pm on Oc­to­ber 26, when, ac­cord­ing to her, po­lice swooped down on the home of her aunt next door and not only man­han­dled the woman but also her teenage daugh­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to Harry, her aunt ran into her yard “fuh res­cue from the po­lice. When dem go to me aunty house she went by me be­cause she been just come home from work. She went over and dem say how dem come fuh search she house and she ask dem if dem get war­rant and one a dem tell she ‘this is nah Amer­ica’ and dem run up in she house where she chil­dren dem went.

“Me aunty start quarrel up with de po­lice and she daugh­ter dem start quarrel to and she run over by me and dem come fuh she and I tell dem lef she is a woman why dem be­hav­ing suh. And a set a peo­ple come out pun de road. Dem start to beat me, dem po­lice this beat me and when me went by me gate the gate fall pun me foot.”

Even­tu­ally, she re­lated, the po­lice of­fi­cers left, but re­turned with “back up like if we is big crim­i­nal or some­thing” and they ar­rested her aunt and her daugh­ters, in­clu­sive of the teenagers. They were kept overnight and re­leased on bail.

On Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 28, Harry said, she vis­ited the hos­pi­tal and got a med­i­cal which she took to the po­lice sta­tion. Her or­deal be­come worse when ranks vis­ited her the fol­low­ing day (Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 29th) and ar­rested her.

“I was beg­ging dem and tell dem is bear girl chil­dren me gat and no­body to look dem if I get ar­rest. Dem carry me to de sta­tion and me still cry­ing and a beg dem and one a dem say ‘put she in de lockup fuh 72 hours’,” she said.

“Now when dem put me in de lockup, this thing just frus­trate me and I tell dem I just feel like killing me self be­cause dah is how I feel. When me say so, three woman po­lice come in de lockup and tek off me clothes. Is dem tek me clothes. Dem tek off me pants, me jer­sey, panty, brassiere ev­ery­thing and just lef me in de lockup naked,” she said this halt­ingly and I be­lieve she was ashamed to re­live this ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Whole day me in the lock­ups naked and just af­ter dem lef a male pris­oner in the pas­sage­way and he been watch­ing me and den dem tek he and put he in de cell next to me. And when de male po­lice putting he in de cell he been look­ing at me to and I say ‘of­fi­cer don’t peep at me.’ Is till late in de af­ter­noon when dem want carry me to Whim dat dem send fuh clothes and I put on back clothes till near seven o’clock.”

The woman was then driven to Whim Po­lice Sta­tion where she said she dis­cov­ered that $1,400 which she had lodged with her other per­sonal be­long­ings was miss­ing. She spent the night at Whim and was re­leased on $20,000 bail and was told she would be charged with dam­age to a po­lice ve­hi­cle.

“But me ain’t know but noth­ing like dah. Is deh gate fall down on me foot and it must be dam­age the po­lice ve­hi­cle but the po­lice been a beat me too much,” the woman said.

“I want jus­tice, m’aam. Po­lice must not beat a woman and chil­dren like a dah. We want jus­tice. We in­no­cent. We didn’t do a crime fuh de po­lice come and be­have like a dah,” the woman cried.

She said she works hard as a ven­dor to sup­port her chil­dren as she wants a bet­ter life for them.

“Me nah aban­don me chil­dren. I does live fuh dem. Me nah ask no­body fuh any­thing fuh dem a guh school,” she con­tin­ued.

“When I come home back from de lock-up me hear how de fa­ther fuh deh two lil one tek dem, and de two big one went by a aunty and de other one by a cousin. Dah is how me chil­dren had to spend de night be­cause is girl chil­dren, dem can’t stay home alone. Dah is wah the po­lice put we through. Fuh noth­ing!” the woman cried.

“Me does tell me chil­dren how me want dem fuh go to school and put ed­u­ca­tion in dem brain be­cause me nah want dem to pun­ish like me. Me pun­ish bad mom, bad, bad. Me been a run away and went away with dem three big one fa­ther,” she said.

She said she was 17 years old at the time and had stayed out all night and when she re­turned home, she was beaten mer­ci­lessly.

“Me un­cle been a beat me bad and me just run away and went and live with he. But you think he treat me

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