Photo: A police officer seen while going about taking away placards from individuals at Independence Square on Monday 2nd August 2021 (social media image)
Photo: A police officer seen while going about taking away placards from individuals at Independence Square on Monday 2nd August 2021 (social media image)

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 6th August 2021)- Participants of a type of appearance event-said not to be a protest- indicating their position on forced vaccination in the workplace and the general topic of vaccination recently sparked widespread public debate after their placards were taken away by police officers on Emancipation Day public holiday- Monday 2nd August 2021- at Independence Square in Basseterre.

“Freedom! Emancipation Day, wey you be?! Wey you be?!” remarked one female after her placard was taken away while she was seated alone on a bench.

When contacted, a source from the Police Public Relations Department commented when asked why the placards were taken away saying: “Nobody applied  for permission. They were warned about gathering, that if they turned up to participate it would be unlawful; they would be breaking the law.”

It was also stated that there was a promotional video circulated, inviting persons to the Square.

This media house was pointed to a police statement that was issued the day before which read: “The High Command of The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force has become aware of an unlawful meeting and protest being organized by a group of individuals in the Federation. The High Command wants to make it clear that no application requesting permission for any group or person to organise, coordinate and/or host any meeting or procession in any public space in Basseterre was submitted to the Commissioner of Police. Any such event found to be taking place on August, Monday 02, 2021, will be considered unlawful and will be brought to an end and the persons responsible will be prosecuted. The Police are, therefore, appealing to the good citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis to not take part in any such unlawful event and are sending a stern warning to those who intend to.”

It was highlighted by the police source that The Public Meetings and Processions Act outlines that the leaders or organizers should be held accountable according to the proceedings of such events.

According to Section 3 (5) Public Meetings: “Any member of the Police Force may stop and cause to be dispersed any public meeting in a public place in respect of which no notice or insufficient notice has been given contrary to the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, or which has been prohibited by or is being held contrary to any restrictions imposed by the Chief of Police under subsection (2) of this section.”

Well-known social media videographer Shaq ‘Model Cop’ Bassue-Benjamin did a live coverage spanning 1 hour 49 minutes and 52 seconds. 

Just a little over an hour into the footage- after placards were “confiscated by police”- he was heard saying to viewers “As you can see there is no protest.”

He talked about the police’s statement sent out the day before which he opined “led persons to come here.”

“A document was circulated by police that persons were planning a protest today, and I guess that document would have sparked persons coming here to Independence Square looking for that protest. Well, persons have been here a while and there has been no protest. Persons started to gather I guess after they read the document from police  so persons are just here looking for that protest …so perhaps the police did themselves an injustice by issuing that document.”

“Everybody by dey self”, was a shouted response heard from a female while a senior ranking police officer was seen speaking to an individual.