Govt to consider curfew for Abaco

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

October 4, 2019

Travis Cartwright-Carroll The Nassau Guardian

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, right, and Jack Thompson, who heads the hurricane redevelopment efforts on Abaco, discussing relief efforts at a NEMA distribution center at the Central Abaco Primary School in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, on Wednesday. TRAVIS CARTWRIGHT-CARROLL

On Monday, Ivan Mills told The Guardian that when the lights go out, the looters come out.

Amos Weatherford, a resident of Sweetings Village, asked The Nassau Guardian, “How come you all aren’t reporting on all the looting that’s going on?”

MARSH HARBOUR, Abaco — Cabinet will discuss whether to implement a curfew on Abaco amid concerns of looting on that island, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said.

Abaco was devastated by Hurricane Dorian a month ago and security is a major issue for many locals who still live in the ruins of Marsh Harbour and the surrounding communities.

On Wednesday, the prime minister told The Nassau Guardian that he is “not happy” about the security situation on the ground and the number of police and defense force officers on the island.

Minnis previously stated that he wanted an additional 150 officers on the ground, something he repeated when he met with the top police and defense force commanders at the Government Complex in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, on Wednesday.

“We requested an additional 150 personnel,” he said following that closed-door meeting.

“We will again talk to the defense force. We have, I was told, 40, 50 individuals who may have retired. You know they force retirement early, at 55. So we will call all those individuals back so that they can assist with security.

“Cabinet and I, we will have to decide whether…once I survey and have a better understanding of the situation, we will make a determination as to whether we will institute a curfew.

“There is no reason for people to be about moving in the darkness.

“We need extra manpower. We need more personnel, no doubt.”

Some residents on the island said they live in fear and many claim that looting continues unabated.

Minnis said, “I think we have to mobilize the manpower, mobilize those retired defense force, mobilize as many as possible, then I think a curfew may be essential.

“There is no reason for you to be moving around other than the security personnel and individuals of essential service.”

Asked about the lack of visible presence of officers on the island, Minnis said, “That’s what we are going to address.

“I had a meeting on Sunday with both the commissioner and the defense force commodore and I told them I was not too happy with the security. I had some concerns.

“I gave them an order that by Tuesday of this week I [wanted] an additional 150 men on the street.

“We have more coming. We will have to flood the streets [and] ensure that security is addressed.”

Minnis, North Abaco MP Darren Henfield, Central and South Abaco MP James Albury, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness Iram Lewis and Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell did an assessment of the island on Wednesday.

Jack Thompson, who heads the hurricane relief and redevelopment efforts on Abaco, accompanied them.

When Minnis arrived on Abaco around 2:30 p.m., his first comments to Thompson centered on security.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, there were widespread reports of looting on the island. Residents claimed that people not only looted from stores, but from homes as well.

Residents said that while the looting is not as rampant a month later, it continues.

On Monday, Ivan Mills told The Guardian that when the lights go out, the looters come out.

Amos Weatherford, a resident of Sweetings Village, asked The Nassau Guardian, “How come you all aren’t reporting on all the looting that’s going on?”

Weatherford, who said he had a shotgun in his truck, said he doesn’t leave his home empty for long. He and his father stay at the home and they alternate who stays on the property, he said.

“If I go to church, he stays home,” he said.

Residents claim that if you don’t lock your door, “they’ll take that too”.

In Pelican Shores, a community in Marsh Harbour, a steel line sat in the road, one end tied to a palm tree and the other to a utility pole. At night the residents raise the line to prevent cars from entering.

At the base of the line sits a sign: Not tonite.

A home not too far away has a sign: If you loot, we shoot.

The prime minister did not specify whether he wanted to see a curfew for all of Abaco or just certain parts.

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