Claims of police abuse at parade

Several videos purportedly depicting police officers beating a group of young men at the New Year’s Junkanoo Parade have been widely shared on social media, raising questions about whether officers used unnecessary force in dealing with them.

In one of the videos, several uniformed officers are seen next to a group of young men lined off with their hands pressed against a wall.

One officer, who was swinging a long baton, proceeded to hit one of the young men as he allowed him to walk away, without arresting him.

The officer then did the same to another man, who walked away from the scene without being arrested.

In another video, police officers were shown waving batons, which they swung into a crowd that was standing outside Bank of The Bahamas on Shirley Street.

In yet another short recording outside Bank of The Bahamas, a man was writhing on the ground as an officer hit him repeatedly.

Keith Moss Jr., 23, said he was that young man who was knocked to the ground.

He said a police officer hit him in his head with a baton after he tried to pull his sister — who said she was slapped by an officer — away from the scene. Neither Moss nor his sister was arrested.

Moss, whose head was bandaged, said he and his sister filed complaints yesterday morning.

He said he still does not know why the group was confronted by police. He noted there had been a fight earlier on the other side of the street by the Registrar General’s Department, but it had already been broken up.

“They were trying to get us off [Shirley] Street, for what reason, I don’t know,” he said.

He added, “I was trying to get them off my sister first, actually. And when I went for her, that’s when they started attacking me.”

Moss said police then walked him up Frederick Street and left him there. He said he called his brother’s mother, who is also a police officer, to pick him up and take him to the emergency room at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Lakeitra Moss, 22, said she is hesitant to trust police after the incident.

“That was me who got slapped to the floor,” she said.

Moss added, “I can’t blame every police, but we really didn’t do anything and they beat us dead bad. People are trying to make it seem like we were out there causing problems, and it’s bad because my brother has a business and I have a little business too. I looked at the video and I was like, ‘I can’t believe they actually slapped me down like that.’

“And they can’t even tell you why. It isn’t like we resisted arrest or we disrespected them or we cursed and carried on. It wasn’t nothing like that. They told us to go and we were trying to get our stuff to go. It just happened so fast.”

Keith Moss Sr., 50, a former defense force officer who is the father of the siblings, said he is disappointed by the actions of police.

“I am a stickler for law and order, but when I see these kinds of things, no one is above the law,” he said.

“The first thing I asked the kids was, ‘Well, what did you all do?’

“And they explained to me what happened, and then I saw the video.

“And it’s very disturbing.”

He added, “They beat these kids like that for what reason? If you tell them to leave [Shirley] Street and they’re leaving, what reason is there to beat them like that?

“And then to add insult to injury, they took him, and I asked which station they took him to, and he said they let him go. So, obviously he did nothing illegal because they were not arrested. None of them were arrested.”

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said yesterday anyone who feels abused by police should file a complaint, which will be investigated.

While he could not be reached for comment yesterday, Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson told reporters during the parade that police broke up a group of “lil’ young thugs” who were behaving disorderly in the area of Market Street.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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