Prime Minister in Bimini to Hear Concerns After Rioting

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Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham is pictured at the Cathedral of Mount Zion Baptist Church addressing mourners at the funeral service for Ascol Deno Rolle on Saturday, January 5, 2008. The Prime Minister announced that he will hold a town meeting on the island on Wednesday, January 9. (Photo/ Peter Ramsay)

By Clunis Devaney

BAILEY TOWN, Bimini
– As an initial and important step in charting a course of restoration in Bimini following last month’s riot there, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham will head a town meeting he said will give the community and the government an opportunity to hear and understand each other’s points of view.

The town meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 9.

Rioting following the December 22 fatal police shooting of Bimini resident Ascol Deno Rolle resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to public property. Police dormitories, vehicles and a police force boat were among facilities and items destroyed during the disturbance.

Mr. Ingraham, along with government Ministers and West End and Bimini MP Obie Wilchcombe travelled to Bimini to attend Rolle’s funeral held at the Cathedral of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

Through dialog the government plans to have with the Bimini community at Wednesday’s town meeting, Mr. Ingraham said residents will be able to tell the Government all the things it can do, and he and his Ministers will have the chance to tell them what the Government wants them to hear.

“I want to find out the facts first – the facts about who did what to whom and then we could take it from there,” the prime minister emphasised. “We will start from the base. I want to find out who destroyed public property and for those persons to be dealt with.

“From that point forward we can begin talking about restoration, but first things first.”

While in Bimini, the prime minister toured the police barracks damaged during the riot, pointing out that in addition to wanting to get an “on the ground” appreciation of the damage, he wished to show his support to police officers in Bimini who will begin the process of restoration on the island.

Responding to questions on potential consequences for those responsible for the destruction of property in Bimini, Mr. Ingraham re-iterated that The Bahamas is a country of laws that must be upheld.
“The Government has a duty to ensure that the people are secure and the people feel safe and that the laws of The Bahamas are followed and adhered to,” he said.

“All persons who are in breach of the law are subject to the law and they can and will take their course in respect to any matter that emanates, whether it is the incident here, whether it is the incident which precipitated it or any other such matter. I don’t speak for the police but the laws of The Bahamas are the laws of The Bahamas and they are to be adhered to in full and followed.

“Wherever the evidence leads the police are fully empowered and are required and expected to do their job.”

During Saturday’s funeral service, Mr. Ingraham and National Security Minister the Hon. Tommy Turnquest brought condolences and re-emphasised the importance of restraint and the rule of law.

Mr. Turnquest said: “Any loss is a great loss but the loss of one’s child, one’s father, one’s grandfather, one’s nephew must be extremely painful.”

He commended the Bimini community and gave special recognition to Ascol Rolle’s father James Rolle for the role he played in restoring calm and calling for peace. Mr. Turnquest credited Mr. Rolle with putting aside his personal grief for the betterment of the Bimini community.

The National Security Minister promised that no stone will be left unturned in recognizing the truth of Rolle’s death.

Prime Minister Ingraham said “Deno” met an untimely death and assured the people of Bimini that, “in our society the rule of law prevails. No man or woman is above the law.”