‘Police beating’sparks outrage
Tourists and Bahamians looked on in horror as a police officer allegedly beat a woman before hauling her off to jail yesterday in the area just behind the downtown straw market.
Eyewitnesses toldThe Nassau Guardianthat the woman-identified by family members as Edena Farah-was conducting a segway tour when she was stopped by an off-duty officer and subsequently beaten for reasons that are still unknown.
“The lady(Farah)was on the scooter with about 12 tourists following her,”said woodcarver James Rolle, who reportedly watched as the situation unfolded.”She stopped and was talking to the tourists, and the police woman, who wasn’t even in uniform, grabbed the woman by her hair and started to beat her.
“How could we have policemen in the force like that?”
WhenThe Guardianarrived on the scene yesterday a large crowd of tourists and vendors was gathered in the back of the straw market, many of them very agitated.
“The police should not be[acting]like that. They’re nasty,”said visiting French Canadian Dael Piwko.”[The police]scared us. We came here, we spent our money and what are they doing?They beat the woman. They’re showing us bad things. They should not do that.
“It’s scary because you know you have lots of tourists here. They should cut it out. The policemen are a little too aggressive here. Just let them tour… let them serve us. We’re coming here because of the people. Don’t be aggressive here.”
Referring to the vendors who had served her earlier in the day, the woman added:”These are lovely people. The police should help-not hurt.”
Superintendent Wayne Miller, who was on the scene yesterday, toldThe Guardianthat he could not give details on what happened as the matter was still under investigation.
“Right now I’m trying to restore calm,”he said, pointing to the large groups of people gathered behind the market.
“We’re going to look at everything that happened then give a report.”
An eyewitness, Natara Gibson, claimed the female officer approached Farah very aggressively.
“The officer never identified herself,”Gibson said.
She claimed that the officer put her hand on Farah first.
“The officer approached her and[grabbed]her,[yanked]her hair and then the woman(Farah)threw her drink in the officer’s face, and the officer bit her,”Gibson claimed.
“You should know the law. If you approach her, you’re supposed to arrest her and carry her. How could you beat her and bite her… what is this?Are we not humans anymore?”
Gibson claimed that the female officer and two male officers grabbed the woman and dragged her to the station.
“The bad thing is the woman had tourists with her,”she said.”They were trying to figure out if this girl stole these bikes.”
Wendy Nixon, a straw vendor, said she was sickened by what she witnessed.
“The police beat her like they wanted to kill her,” Nixon claimed.”I’m calling on the chief of police to investigate the officers. They are not officers; they are bullies.”
Farah’s sister Natasha Farah said she understands that her sister was stopped by the police because she was heading in the wrong direction on a one-way street.
She said her sister reportedly explained to the officer that that is the route that she always takes. She added that it was at that point that the argument started.
Natasha Farrah said she was told that her sister was punched in the face several times.
Several family members gathered yesterday at the Tourism Police Station on Bay Street where Farrah was being held. Up to press time, she was still under arrest.
Another sister said police would only say that Edena Farrah was arrested for disorderly conduct.
“She’s in there bruised and bloodied. She is not a robber. She is not a thief. And she is not a murderer. Instead of beating her they need to go and do their job,”one of the sisters said.
The manager of the segway tour toldThe Guardianthat several of the tourists who were on the tour with Farah returned to the office and expressed their disappointment in the police’s behavior.
“They literally did this in front of the guests,”the manager said.”They said they’re not coming back here because if this is the way the police treat Bahamians they don’t want to return.”