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Ten protestors removed from picket line – four charged

Ten protestors removed from picket line – four charged


Persons protesting the outcome of the December 9, 2015 General Elections must adhere to the Public Order Act or face the full weight of the law.

That is the word from Commissioner of Police (COP) Michael Charles who said yesterday that the police will not stop persons from protesting but they must do it peacefully, and within the confines of the law.{{more}}

On Wednesday, ten protestors were removed from in front the Electoral Office on Bay Street and detained by police.

Four of them were charged under the Public Order Act and Section 67(1) of the Criminal Code, and appeared in the Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where they were given bail.

Violet Joslyn-Hannibal, 52, of Redemption Sharpes, was charged with assembling together with Osborn Jack, 30, security guard, of Level Gardens; Sheridon Davis, 42, unemployed, of Arnos Vale; and Susan Duncan, of Georgetown, “outside the precincts of the Electoral Office with intent of a common purpose to wit disruption of the Electoral Office and did conduct herself in a manner to cause persons in the neighborhood to fear that she will commit a breach of the peace.”

Osborn was also charged that “without lawful excuse in a public place, to wit Bay Street public road, he had in his possession an offensive weapon to wit an imitation firearm at Bay Street Kingstown on January 20, 2016.”

The Public Order Act says that you cannot have a public meeting within 200 yards of the House of Assembly Building within specified hours or within 200 yards of the head office of all ministries. The head office of a ministry in this case is the Financial Complex on Bay Street.

The Commissioner said that to begin with, persons must adhere to the 200 yards rule, which means they cannot protest directly in front the Electoral Office.

“We are not stopping the protests, but they must be, according to the Public Order Act, 200 yards away from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Security. That places them a little above the Chinese Restaurant, said the Commissioner.

He added also that protestors must not create noise, and should desist from beating drums, ringing bells, blowing whistles and singing on Bay Street between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:30 pm.

“People are allowed to peaceful protest under our laws but they must adhere to certain rules. Protest peacefully,” stressed Charles.

Persons who breach Section 67 of the Criminal Code can be jailed for one year.

There have been reports of Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay being harassed and threatened by protestors, and according to Lawyer Parnel R Campbell Q.C., this in itself helps to make the protests outside the Electoral Office illegal under the Constitution (see story on page 3).

On Wednesday, Leader of the Opposition and President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace opined that the rights of the protestors were being violated.

He said that the placards of protestors were taken away, after which they were detained and the NDP had assigned lawyers to deal with the situation.

“I am saying to the public, come out tomorrow right here and let us continue this protest tomorrow, but on a larger scale, what is happening is ridiculous. We are supposed to be a democracy and people must have their rights and keep their rights. They can’t be railroaded by any politician we must respect our people and respect their rights,” said Eustace.

He said that the protestors have been peacefully protesting for weeks.

On Thursday morning, protest continued as usual on Bay Street.

SEARCHLIGHT caught up with Eustace mid-morning and asked for his comments.

“This morning it was very small. It’s picking up and I am expecting it will pick up and I expect it to become quite large,” he said.

Eustace said so far, the protestors had not been hindered by police.

When asked why was protest continuing, even though the NDP had filed in court, petitions challenging the results of the general elections in the Central Leeward and North Windward constituencies, Eustace said the court action does not resolve the matter.

“That doesn’t resolve the matter. When the matter is fully resolved then there will be no protest.”

Asked if the protest will end whether or not the court rules in their favour, Eustace said: “Then we will decide.”(LC/CM)