The president of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) is urging Guyana’s President David Granger to review the alleged actions of Minister Simona Broomes and “repudiate them if deemed inappropriate.”
CGID president Rickford Burke told Caribbean Life on Sunday that Broomes, Minister within Guyana’s Ministry of Natural Resources, “has acknowledged to a media publication her involvement in an incident in New Thriving Restaurant parking lot at Providence Village, Guyana.”
Burke said that, allegedly, on arrival at the restaurant, Broomes’s driver pulled up in what the business proprietor alleged is a no parking zone.
“Without authorization, he removed the barricades or signs and attempted to drive into the restricted area,” Burke said. “Video footage shows a security guard approached and stopped the vehicle, and then replaced the signs or barricades.”
As a second guard arrived, the CGID president said the driver again exited the vehicle, confronted the guards and removed the signs a second time.
“Subsequently, Minister Broomes exited her vehicle, tossed the sign to the ground,” Burke said. “A confrontation between the minister and security guards ensued.
“During this time, her driver drove in the direction of the guards, forced them out of the path of the vehicle and proceeded into the restricted area,” he added.
Burke said Broomes acknowledged to the media publication that the guards advised her that the area was a no parking zone.
“She claimed that she identified herself as a government minister, but the guards were belligerent,” he said.
“Ms. Broomes also alleged to police that a guard threatened her or pointed his weapon at her,” he added. “The guards denied threatening the minister or her driver, and alleged that the driver brandished a weapon.”
Burke said the soundless, surveillance video ends when the parties moved outside of the range of security cameras.
“What happened thereafter is unverifiable by the video that was released to the public,” Burke said, adding that “the said footage does not show a gun being pointed at the minister or the driver brandishing a firearm.”
He, however, said “this does not prove that either alleged act did not occur.”
Burke said a number of eyewitnesses were present who will be able to corroborate the guards or minister’s account.
“Although their words are inaudible, nothing in the video footage shows the guards’ comportment to be inappropriate,” he said. “Nonetheless, police arrested the security guards.”
Burke said if the guards verbally threatened to shoot and / or pointed a gun at the minister, “that action creates an aggravated circumstance that is potentially a criminal act that might [have] warranted their arrest.”
“Given the obvious inconsistencies and in the interest of total transparency, it is imperative for the police to explain what evidence provided probable cause for the guards’ arrest and who gave such instruction,” he said.
“No security guard or minister of government is above the law,” Burke added. “However, like all other customers, the minister is entitled to professional treatment, as well as a safe and secure environment while conducting business on the premises.”
But he said Broomes is “not entitled to special treatment at the facility, unless the proprietors, exercising discretion, so offers or instructs.”
Burke said President Granger should, therefore, “request a full review of the incident, and, based on the findings, repudiate her conduct, if the facts and circumstances so warrant.
“We must hold ministers of government to the highest standards of ethics,” he said. “If the minister was threatened, she should have politely called the police and let them address the matter.
“Engaging in a brawl with security guards is unbecoming and beneath the dignity of a minister,” he added.
“The minister made an obvious mistake and exercised bad judgment,” Burke continued. “She should apologize to the public, meet with the guards for an honest conversation to clear up this misunderstanding, and move on.
“She will earn the respect and admiration of the nation for doing so,” Burke continued.
At the same time, he said calls for Broomes’s resignation are “equally deplorable.”