NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A Haitian migrant is in hospital with two broken arms after he fell from his bicycle attempting to flee armed officers in Abaco.
Elison Nelson, 46, said he hasn’t held a work permit in more than 10 years but has lived in The Bahamas since he was 14 years old.
He said he was chased by officers with “long guns” as he was returning from Green Turtle Cay on Tuesday.
“I don’t know why I run,” he told Eyewitness News Online from his bed at the Princess Margaret Hospital yesterday.
“In my mind I say I’ll never run from them because I don’t want them to beat me. I always say that.
He continued: “But when they point gun at me, I don’t know what happened. I just moved. I tried to get away from them.”
Nelson was airlifted to the capital shortly after 1am on Wednesday.
He said he was unsure whether the officers were from the immigration department or the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
Nelson said he works as a construction helper in GTC and is paid daily.
He said he was riding his bicycle from the dock when he saw two trucks parked further down the road.
When he got closer, several officers allegedly came out of the bush with “big long guns” in their hands, pointed at him.
He said three officers began chasing after him on foot, along with other officers in a truck.
Nelson claimed he could hear someone screaming “shoot him” as he fled.
He said he felt a breeze blow him, then he hit a rock and fell on top of several large rocks.
Nelson claimed while he was on the ground, one officer told him, “you see, if I was going to shoot you, I would shoot you. Why you run?”
He continued: “I say because I scared of y’all. Y’all point big gun on me.”
Nelson said he was afraid for his life.
The father of four said he could feel his arms were broken and he informed the officers of his injuries, but one of them told him, “I don’t care, you is garbage”.
Nelson said he was placed on the back of the truck, and further claimed the officers rode around for about two hours before taking him to the clinic.
“I was suffering in the back of the truck, so I start crying because I [couldn’t] take that pain no more,” he said.
“The pain really hurt me and I just start crying.”
Nelson has one Bahamas-born son and one son living in the United States.
His wife and two other sons live in Haiti.
“I would say I’ll never run from them but I don’t know yesterday what happen to me,” he said repeatedly during the interview.
“…I was not supposed to run for me to kill myself like that.”
Nelson said his life in The Bahamas has only gotten worse in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The Category 5 storm devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama between September 1-3, claiming the lives of a confirmed 67 people — and displacing thousands, many of whom resided in shantytown communities in Abaco.
The Mudd and the Peas – the two largest of the six shantytowns on the island were flattened.
Additionally, the government issued a cease order with immediate effect for The Mudd, The Peas, Sandbanks and The Farm in order to prevent anyone from building or developing in those communities.
While there was a temporary hold on repatriations following the storm, the government has since resumed enforcement and deportations.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has warned “illegals” to leave or be forced to leave, and Attorney General Carl Bethel advised work permit holders, who no longer held jobs as a result of the storm, to “go home”.
Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson has maintained The Bahamas is a country of laws, adding the government will follow those laws as outlined in the Immigration Act.
Yesterday, Nelson described a tense climate in The Bahamas, and said he knew he was not wanted in the country.
He said he made plans to go back to Haiti in December.
“I see I can’t make it because life too tough,” Nelson said.
“I can’t manage that no more so I say I have to go home. I 46, so as I get old, I say I don’t want to be here anymore.”
However, Nelson said his plans to leave the country may have to be delayed due to medical bills he has incurred.
He said he has to find a way to pay expenses – including the air ambulance and whatever further care he will need.
“I can’t just leave now,” Nelson added.
“I have to pay that. As soon as I finish pay that, I go home.”