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Media Release: The First Belize Youth For Change Symposium

The First Youth For Change Symposium
Last Updated: January 23, 2023

With lively discussions, debates, laughter and even the occasional tears, the first Belize Youth for Change Symposium gave young Belizeans an opportunity to discuss concerns, highlight pressing issues, join together in a call for justice, and exercise their collective voice.

Youth For Change Symposium

Organised by The Justice for Laddie Foundation, the symposium, held Saturday, January 21 at the Radisson Hotel in Belize City, brought together individuals and representatives from youth groups to discuss a range of issues affecting today’s young people.

Demmy Williams, the Foundation’s Director, acted as the Symposium’s moderator.

Demoise Williams the Foundations Chair

“Justice For Laddie has grown to be bigger than just seeking justice for Laddie Gillett. It’s grown into a movement, who’s mission is not just to ensure that persons are held responsible for what happened on July 14th, 2021, but that this never­ happens to another child. We called on the youth leadership community to assist us on this mission, and we’re grateful to everyone who answered and attended.”

Following an invocation and presentation of the national anthem on steel drums, friends and family of Laddie remembered him, and spoke about the effect his killing had on them. Moving and honest, the remembrances set the tone for the discussions that followed.

Tay, Laddie's Cousin Speaking at the Symposium

After presenting the meeting’s agenda, Administrator Christy Valdez outlined the Foundation’s mission and goals, and offered a summary of projects completed so far.

Audience participation accelerated after a reading of Laddie’s Law, a series of six proposals put forth by the Foundation soon after Laddie’s killing. Laddie’s Law was developed to enhance trust between police and the communities they serve by improving transparency, accountability, and communication.

Laddie's Law

The reading had broad acceptance and led to conversations about the need for such community-driven proposals, and ways in which Laddie’s Law could become a reality.

Discussion Of Laddie's Law

As one attendee remarked, the enthusiastic audience participation in these discussions showed that young Belizeans have strong views on the issues affecting them and their communities, and are eager to have their opinions heard.

Other topics under discussion included:

Andrew Munnings

Andrew Munnings shared a heartfelt and moving speech at Saturday’s symposium, inspiring attendees with words of change, and that the time for it was now. Munnings, who owns a funeral home on the South Side of Belize City, and was in care of Laddie’s funeral arrangements, went to on to further express that youth today are powerful and that they needed to use this power to create a future where young men wouldn’t lose their lives senselessly, especially at the hands of law enforcement.

Justice For Laddie

Other speakers included Bryton Codd, from the Young Leaders Association of Belize, who stressed on how accountability was needed on all ends to ensure that whatever policies are put in place are carried out transparently. His sentiments were mirrored by attendees from the Belize Police Department and Defence force, who say that though processes are already in place, that accountability on parts of their offices left more to be desired.

laddies memorial day placencia 2022 82

Ms Williams concluded her address to the group on a positive note, reminding everyone that they were part of the first generation in Belize that actually had their own, strong voice, and the power of that voice to effect meaningful change.

The symposium then ended with thanks to all speakers who shared their experiences “with grief, healing, and a way forward,” and by acknowledging Laddie’s adoptive grandmother, Lucy Fleming, and mother, Bryony Bradley, for their tireless work over the last year and a half to keep Laddie’s memory alive, raise public awareness, organise community events and bring people together in calling for Justice for Laddie.

Youth that attended the Symposium

“In remembrance, Let us all decide that together we can, and will create change, because justice for Laddie is justice for all Belizeans,” Ms Valdez said.

The trial of Laddie’s killer; the former police corporal Kareem Martinez, is now scheduled for January 27, in the Supreme Court of Dangriga. The Justice for Laddie Foundation will continue to post updates on its website and Facebook pages.