Peaceful vigil held in honor of Edwin Ixpatac
Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
The memory of Edwin Ixpatac was honored during a vigil candle walk held in San Pedro Town on Saturday, March 12th. The event was organized by friends and family members of the late Ixpatac who succumbed to injuries sustained from apparent police brutality. A small group of island residents dressed in white and carrying candles gathered at the Central Park where the walk started. Also present at the event were Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Area Representative and Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr.
On Thursday, March 3rd, Ixpatac was detained by San Pedro police, and while he was in custody he sustained injuries which caused him to slip into a coma. Ixpatac never woke up, and on Monday, March 7th, he passed away at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. As a result, three San Pedro police officers were charged with murder and remanded to the Belize Central Prison where they await their court appearance on May 9th. In the meantime, their supervisor, Sergeant Raymond Berry is on interdiction.
Before the vigil walk started through the streets of the town core, the local leaders shared a few remarks with the attendees and the family of the deceased. Mayor Guerrero thanked everyone for coming out to join in on the peaceful walk. He stated that times like this is when the island residents need to be more united and fight any odds that may hamper the peace on the island.
“We at The San Pedro Town Council, we try our best to keep the peace and try working with everybody, but yet remember that it takes every resident to develop the island in a peaceful manner,” said Guerrero. “The Council is trying its best in all angles when it comes to safety but sometimes it goes beyond us.”
He took the opportunity to tell all residents that their cooperation with the law is vital when it comes to ensuring the safety of everyone. He ended by offering his condolences to the Ixpatac family and continued to encourage everyone to trust in the local law enforcement and to work together with them in order to deter crime activities.
Next on the microphone was the Honorable Heredia Jr, who reminded everyone about the unity the San Pedro community is known for. He condemned the incident and stated that he would not tolerate any violence coming from police officers assigned to the island. “I will make sure that all the weight of the law is given to those responsible for the incident,” said Heredia.
However, he mentioned that at the end of the day, the court judge is the one who dictates if the culprits are sentenced or freed. “We cannot interfere with the judiciary system, but we can recommend for them to tough on situations like this one,” said Heredia. “But on our local part, let’s do our best and leave the differences on one side, you all have my total support and I will continue working hard to guarantee the safety for everyone in San Pedro, as the island has always been known a safe place to be.”
Right after the speeches the solidarity walk left from the Central Park and headed north through Barrier Reef Drive, then onto Pescador drive and finally returning to the Central Park. During the walk, other island residents who have lost family members due to crime also took the opportunity to bring out posters with pictures of their beloved ones. Among the other victims that were remembered during the event was San Pedro Jeffrey Eiley, and Samantha Barrios, a Honduran girl who was recently murdered in an aggravated burglary.
After the walk, the Ixpatac family thanked everyone for coming out and sharing a last goodbye to Edwin. “We will miss him dearly, but we feel a bit of comfort that the responsible persons for his death are behind bars,” said one of Edwin’s brothers.
In the meantime, according to one of Edwin’s sisters, Olga Cruz, they are seeking help in order to hire a lawyer as they plan to sue the police. Many of the attendees encouraged this action.
Edwin Ixpatac’s family hopes for justice, and seek a verdict in their favor when the trio of officers face their day in court. They welcome everyone who would like join them on that day when they go to court.
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