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