Thursday, November 30, 2006

Calling the Commissioner

Dear Sista,

I telephoned Royal Bahamas Police Force Commissioner Paul Farquharson and asked him about your case. I wanted him to tell me that the five officers who arrested and detained you completely naked at the Grove Police Station had all been relieved of their badges. I wanted him to tell me that someone would be held responsible, arrested and charged with human rights abuses. I told him that Nassau women are outraged and wanting answers. Wanting justice for you.

Commissioner Farquharson confirmed that investigations into your formal complaint against the officers at the Grove Police Station are ongoing, and that he hopes to have answers for you “very soon.” Mr. Farquharson told me: “I don’t know of the status at this moment but I have spoken to Deputy Commissioner Dames of the Complaints and Discipline Unit, and Deputy Commissioner John Rolle who is in charge of the investigation and asked him to give this one top priority. I cannot put a time line on this investigation but I hope it will be very soon. When it is completed Ms. L. will be informed. “

The Commissioner said that when he heard what had happened to you he sent for you. He told me that when you arrived the boyfriend was in tow. After the Commissioner had heard your story he urged you to make a formal complaint. At first you were refusing to. The Commissioner had to hush up the boyfriend who was pressuring you to keep quiet. The boyfriend kept talking about lawyers. The Commissioner told him that it was not his decision, that it was yours. Commissioner Farquharson eventually did persuade you to make the complaint so that a proper investigation could begin.

Sista, I hear you were so brave. You went right then to the Complaints and Discipline Unit and told your story again, this time to Deputy Police Commissioner Dames. I think of the strength it must have taken to tell your story again and again, reliving it, all the terror, all the humiliation, having to tell it to one man after another, and all of them wearing the uniforms of the same organization that so hurt you. You found the strength to push through the bad feelings and tell your truth. Nobody told you, but somehow you know that your voice is your greatest liberator, your best chance for justice. You took a stand and I want everyone to know. I want all Bahamian women to know how courageous you are.

Because you are speaking out, Commissioner Farquarson is speaking too. He said: “I want to assure all women that there must be common decency for all persons we arrest, and especially for women. Women must be treated with respect and care and with the utmost professionalism. And common decency for women is what I want share with the junior officers too, as part of their training to make sure that we do not have a recurrence.”

So dear sista, this is just to let you know that we are with you, we are letting Commissioner Farquarson and his investigators know that this matters deeply to us as decent people, and that we’re calling on him to hold someone responsible for what happened to you. Personally I would like to see some dismissals. I told the Commissioner, I have heard that he is one of the Good Guys. I believe he will do what is right to make reparations to you and all the women of your community who depend on the officers at the Grove Police Station for their safety and protection. I believe more and more women from home and from around the world will speak out for you in the coming days. Thank you for all your courage.

Stay strong.
In solidarity,

1 comment:

Nicolette Bethel said...

Keep writing, Lynn. We're reading!

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