Rastas chanted for equal rights and justice after police arrested a man for possession of cannabis during the rally organised by the All Mansions of Rastafari on Sunday in San Fernando.
Eye witnesses claimed the arresting officer was intoxicated while on duty and called for a breathalyser test to be administered in him.
The incident prompted a short-lived clash between police and participants at the rally held at Skinner Park.
The crowd’s emotions eventually cooled and they returned to the space set aside for the event.
Earlier, under the watchful eye of close to 50 uniformed police officers, the group held its second national cannabis rally.
It is the first following a public consultation discussing the decriminalisation of cannabis organised by the Government.
The first cannabis rally was held in October at Woodford Square in Port-of-Spain.
The Port-of-Spain event was incident free according to statistics from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).
The number of uniformed officers visible at that rally was minimal.
The handful of uniformed officers who were present at the Port-of-Spain event stood on the periphery of Woodford Square.
The police officers from San Fernando chose a different approach.
There were several marked police vehicles including a bus parked around the event.
The officers also walked throughout the crowd.
Bongo Grease of AMOR said there were attempts to shut down yesterday’s rally because the organisers did not have a dancehall licence for the event.
AMOR cancelled some of the entertainers they had carded to perform at the rally to ensure it could be held.
“Due to last-minute requirements by senior authorities in San Fernando, AMOR has had to creatively address the entertainment programme designed to fit in line with the ethos of the rally, which is to sensitive the general community on the conversations going around be the issue of cannabis legalisation,” AMOR stated.
“This is an educational event towards equal rights and justice, “ AMOR stated.
“We must not let Babylon restrict us or restrain us from what we have to do,” Bongo Grease said.
“The power of Rastafari will prevail,” he said.
He said this related to both the rally and legalisation of cannabis.
AMOR had its position paper titled Legalisation of Cannabis in Trinidad and Tobago: Towards An Equitable Framework on sale at the event for $65.
He said “decriminalisation” has never been in the lexicon of Rastafari.
Legalise it!” he said.
He said making cannabis illegal has caused the majority of problems in this country.
Vendors selling items including clothes and food formed the periphery of the event while a stage representing the three colours of Rastafari was on the northern end.
The event began 90 minutes later than initially carded and there were several technical hiccups.
But despite these issues, the event was enjoyed by cannabis advocates.
“If we don’t smoke the ganja, then how can we speak with knowledge about it," Grease said.
- by Joel Julien