CoP blocks MSJ's 2nd protest march

Monday, December 10, 2018 - 10:30

Im­me­di­ate­ly up­on hear­ing that the po­lice had stopped part two of a mo­tor­cade for re­trenched work­ers, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith as­sured that full po­lice co­op­er­a­tion will be grant­ed once an ap­pli­ca­tion seek­ing per­mis­sion is made by the Move­ment for So­cial Jus­tice.

In an in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, Grif­fith said the Mon­day mo­tor­cade had to be can­celled be­cause prop­er pro­to­cols were not put in place. The mo­tor­cade, or­gan­ised by the MSJ, was sup­posed to start at 7 am at Para­mount head­quar­ters and end in Port-of-Spain.

How­ev­er, Grif­fith said there was a break­down in com­mu­ni­ca­tion, as the Com­mis­sion­er's Of­fice re­ceived no ap­pli­ca­tion for Mon­day’s march from the MSJ.

"The cor­re­spon­dence was nev­er sent to the of­fice of the Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice. There­fore, how could we grant per­mis­sion if we nev­er re­ceived the cor­re­spon­dence?" Grif­fith said.

Told that po­lice had sup­port­ed the first leg of the march on Sun­day, Grif­fith re­spond­ed, "Yes, that per­mis­sion was giv­en by Deputy Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Harold Phillip. He ap­proved it even though there wasn't any of­fi­cial cor­re­spon­dence be­cause it was a Sun­day and it was eas­i­er to im­pro­vise as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, but for a Mon­day no po­lice in­volve­ment was put in place be­cause they nev­er re­ceived the re­quest hence the po­lice could not have ap­proved some­thing."

Grif­fith added, "I have con­tact­ed David Ab­du­lah and I ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion. I told him we didn't get a re­quest and I ad­vised him to con­tact me di­rect­ly. They are go­ing to resched­ule it for lat­er this week and we will make the req­ui­site pro­pos­als to make sure that the march runs off smooth­ly."

Ab­du­lah mean­while said the mo­tor­cade will take place in the near fu­ture. How­ev­er, he said it was re­gret­table that the MSJ's right to peace­ful protest has been de­nied by the po­lice es­pe­cial­ly since Mon­day was the Unit­ed Na­tion's In­ter­na­tion­al Day of Hu­man Rights,

"To­day was sup­posed to be the start of day two of our na­tion­al mo­tor­cade for jus­tice in T&T. Yes­ter­day (Sun­day), we be­gan that mo­tor­cade at the Dun­lop Round­about in Point Fortin and we tra­versed a large part of south Trinidad. We had a very suc­cess­ful mo­tor­cade with well over 100 mem­bers, more than 40-50 cars to high­light the is­sues of re­trench­ment, crime and vi­o­lence," Ab­du­lah said.

He said the po­lice co­op­er­at­ed "fan­tas­ti­cal­ly" on Sun­day, es­cort­ing the mo­tor­cade and as­sist­ing with traf­fic man­age­ment.

"We ex­pect­ed that to­day when we leave Para­mount Build­ing here in San Fer­nan­do, but yes­ter­day (Sun­day) Deputy Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice in­formed me that ap­proval and per­mis­sion have not been giv­en to our mo­tor­cade to­day. He said he had not re­ceived the let­ter which the gen­er­al sec­re­tary Ozzi War­wick sent by emailed since last Thurs­day," Ab­du­lah said.

He not­ed that it was iron­ic that de­spite not get­ting the let­ter, the po­lice were out in full force on Sun­day.

"There were five marked squad cars, there were two or three un­marked po­lice ve­hi­cles and two mo­tor­cy­cle out­rid­ers from the start to the end of our mo­tor­cade, so there­fore the po­lice knew about the mo­tor­cade," Ab­du­lah said.

He added that the MSJ was not about to en­gage in any con­fronta­tion with the po­lice but was fo­cused on high­light­ing in­jus­tice in T&T.

Reporter: Radica De Silva