BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Friday 27th August 2021)-Tear gas used by police and arrest of three individuals (a male and two females) are two of the widely public debated outcomes of a ‘KITTITIAN LIVES MATTER peaceful walk’ event held on Friday 20th August 2021 on Church Street in Basseterre, which has been labelled by police as an “illegal” gathering that took place.
This reporter spoke to a few individuals that day asking ‘Why are you here today?’ Here is what they had to say:
“I am here to support the unvaxxed and the vaxxed who are treated badly and also the injustice to the people of St.Kitts and Nevis by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has a State of Emergency in place for no reason when he could use the Health Act, and I find that abusive to power…You are not using the state of emergency for any reason because we have CPL going on, you bringing unvaccinated players and vaccinated players, and telling citizens of this country that if you unvaxxed, you can’t enter this place, you can’t enter that place and it is wrong…” When the Prime Minister was fighting for justice, he didn’t have any limit; he went the length to take our flag outside to another country. Is that patriotic? That can’t be patriotic, and today you’re saying because we want to show our disgust with you. We aint here to fight, we aint here to throw no bottle and no stone, all we’re here to do is to show our disgust. It’s perception; it has nothing to do with violence. When you want freedom, you can be aggressive in a nice way. The vaccination programme, you started with a heavy hammer and you did not start right so you had a lot of people being resistant and people also being reluctant because the way you do things is not the way. You should have educated the people first and let us make our choice. You left us with no choice, and when you do things like that you become a dictator.”
Marcella Liburd- Deputy Leader of the opposition St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and former Parliament for Constituency Two (Central Basseterre)
“As the placard says, we are just fed up. What are we fed up with; workers and the way that they are being dismissed and the Government is so silent. You can’t hear nothing from the government on the dismissal of workers just because they haven’t taken a vaccination. You can’t hear anything from the church [Christian Council], you can’t hear anything from the civic organisations who are supposed to be looking out for justice; the injustice and the discrimination that’s going on in this country. How much longer can we remain silent? That’s why we are here.”
“Well, we here today because ah dem satanic agenda wha be dem really ah carry out on de public and on de people. We fed up and we can’t take it no more; too much ah lies, deception and corruption coming from de government. Dey defiling the good land of Liamuiga….too much oppression.”
Medical doctor and Chairman of SKNLP opposition Dr. Terrance Drew, during a live Facebook post outside the Basseterre Police Station on Cayon Street, that night informed that he just came from the hospital after visiting three females “who were injured by the tear gas” saying “one of them suffered a seizure and one had severe asthma. He said the individuals got to the hospital in time.
He told viewers that he also visited the individuals who were arrested, in talking on the topic of peaceful protesting and democracy.
According to eyewitness reports, the tear gas was thrown in the area atop Church Street which was blocked off from vehicular traffic.
Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for Operations Adolph Adams, gave an update on the matter following a question posed by the media during the Prime Minister press conference held on Tuesday 24th August 2021.
“We are not against freedom of speech, we are not against freedom to assemble, we are not against freedom of expression. We are also not against peaceful protesting but what we are saying, if you wish to do so, you must do it within the confines of the law and at this time we must adhere to all COVID-19 protocols. We also want to say on Friday, don’t just show up to engage in lawlessness, otherwise the police force would take all necessary actions to ensure the safety and security of our Federation . We had an illegal procession on Friday in Basseterre, and up to this date no permission was sought from the Commissioner of Police to have such a march. The law gives you such rights to apply. The law also says you must outline what you intend to do, whether you intend to march, how many persons and you must indicate a route where you intend to do whatever you want to do.”
He continued: “Reason being is because the law prohibits you from forming or marching in areas and the Commissioner of Police must be made aware of all the necessary information before he can grant you permission. One of the reason I would say we would not allow any illegal marching or procession in our Federation 1. Is because marches or processions do not always remain peaceful; sometimes it starts out peaceful and you end up endangering others 2. People may have their own different agendas- be it political; we know persons were saying the march was about vaccination but when you saw the placards that were being displayed, we can say there was some level of politics being engaged in these protests.”
The Assistant COP also stated that illegal marches can cause damage to businesses and that illegal marches into the night are prohibited.
“… we saw the march going to the wee hours of Friday evening and these things are prohibited by the law …persons can hide behind the cover of darkness and engage in any type of activities. We have officers who are out there on the ground, and we will do all in our power to ensure that our safety, the safety of the general public is maintained at all times.”
The ‘KITTITIAN LIVES MATTER peaceful walk’ continues to be heavily debated.
This media notes that there is a social media poster indicating that citizens in New York City are expected to host an “An Act of Protest” by standing outside the Permanent Mission of St.Kitts-Nevis come Thursday 2nd September 2021, starting at 8:00AM.
Details read: “Our brothers and sisters in New York are standing with us in solidarity to regain our democracy.”