The government seems convinced that the burning of the Brickdam Police Station and other institutional buildings including schools are linked, whether directly or indirectly, to the intent and public statements of its political opponents.
The Cabinet will meet on Thursday to further discuss this notion and among the main agenda items is funding for the rebuilding of the Brickdam Police Station, a century-old complex that was also home to the Divisional Commander.
As those discussions take place, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, said on Thursday that the recent fires seem intended to “put a spoke in the wheel” of the government and by extension the criminal justice system.
Responding to that notion, he said the government was neither fazed or affected.
“If they feel by doing that they are doing something against the government, they are wrong. It is the people of Guyana. Those people innocent or guilty who are in the system will now have to remain in the system.
“Their numbers [in the] hundreds, their family members thousands, they will suffer the injustice and whenever these acts occur – whether they do it to a school or police station – the government is not fazed, the government is not affected,” the Attorney General said.
Nandlall was speaking during the opening session of training for police ranks in reducing pre-trial and alternative sentencing. Nandlall along with his colleague Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn both digressed to address the fire.
Benn said it was the greatest singular blow against the criminal justice system in recent history. He explained that the police and the government were working together and are well on their way to significantly advancing the manner in which records are kept and how the police respond to cases.
Under the same Inter American Development Bank (IDB) funded US$8 million Support for the Criminal Justice System Project, the prosecutor’s office at the Brickdam Police Station was recently refurbished with new equipment.
“It is a tremendous loss and represents a significant challenge,” Benn added.
He too spoke about the Cabinet meeting, saying hundreds of millions will have to be found to rebuild the station and also compensate for personal losses.
“We have identified that we will rebuild and restore and the fact that we are meeting today says that this is what we will do… We will restore and build better and some of it has to come from within ourselves as individuals and personalities,” the Security Minister said.
While the police have stated that a detainee confessed on video to starting the fire, Benn believes that the political
climate could serve as motivation.
About 80% of the Brickdam Police Station was completely destroyed by the fire (Photo: News Room/October 2, 2021)
“I will be the first to say that if you have an environment overarching in relation to political resorts and notion and general pervasive lawlessness…if people put on social media that Georgetown will burn if something doesn’t happen… perhaps the negative notions and perceptions could feed this level of violence and destruction,” the Home Affairs Minister reasoned.
“While it might appear that certain acts of arson, whether schools or police stations, while we might not see direct connection with acts happening on the ground…the suggestiveness of those things which are said create the environment for negative reflexivity in the actions which people take,” Minister Benn added.
He urged citizens, including the police, to reject such assertions, some of which he said he heard in the streets on Saturday while the fire was raging.