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Photographs gave wrong impression, says ‘Gypsy’

Photographs gave wrong impression, says ‘Gypsy’


A leading political activist who supports the New Democratic Party (NDP) is keen to clear the air over photographs of her that appeared in print media last week – claiming that they give an incorrect impression that she was behaving aggressively towards police officers.

The photographs, which appeared in the Friday, December 11 editions of both SEARCHLIGHT and The Nation (Barbados), show Laverne ‘Gypsy’ Phillips with her hand stretched out in the direction of a Special Service Unit (SSU) officer and a stern expression on her face.{{more}}

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, Phillips said that the photograph caught her at an inopportune moment, and contrary to what many have been saying, she was not trying to fight the officers nor act aggressively toward them.

“At the time the picture was taken, I was actually letting our supporters know that they should not interfere or tango with the officers because we were having a peaceful protest. The caption bothered me the most… the picture, the caption, everything was just wrong! It was just the wrong impression,” she explained.

“I think it gave the public the wrong impression of what I was doing on [Thursday]. It was a peaceful protest. I speak a lot with my hands – for people who know me, they know that I speak with my hands.”

The Sion Hill/Richland Park resident said that she was prompted to contact SEARCHLIGHT to express her displeasure, because many persons have been contacting her through Facebook and Whatsapp asking if she was trying to “fight officers.”

“That’s not the case! Because I am the one who really and truly went up there I was in charge. You can’t expect me to tell people to start something with the officers. There were so many SSU’s [officers] – how can I even, you know, how can I do that?”

Last Thursday ­– the day after the general elections – Phillips, along with a group of NDP supporters blocked the road leading to Government House to protest what they thought was going to be the swearing in of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney General while a recount was happening in two Leeward constituencies.

Phillips recalled that it was between 11 a.m. and midday when she and the rest of the protesters were standing further down at the entrance to the road leading to the Botanic Gardens, when they saw media workers from the Agency for Public Information and The Vincentian heading toward Government House.

“I saw Dayle from ‘The Vincentian’, and I asked Dayle where he was going, and he said up to the swearing in,” she noted.

“Then I said, but the final count isn’t given yet, so why are we having a swearing in ceremony while they are counting? According to our constitutional laws that can’t happen. So, that is why we had that protest.”

In terms of the response of the police to the protesters, Phillips said that she had no complaints – even lauding the actions of the officer in charge of the SSU.

Even before I left, when he gave me the loudspeaker, I congratulated him. We hugged and everything. He did an amazing job!”

Phillips, who works as a radio announcer, said that she was further prompted to set the record straight on the story behind the photographs, because she has ambitions of running for political office in the next general elections, and does not want give off an impression that may harm her future prospects.

“For the longest while… the trend that I have been noticing when it comes to women in politics, they’re being degraded – often-times by women, other times by men.”

She said that in particular, women should support and encourage their fellow women, especially when it comes to political involvement.

“It’s women… who have to make the change, you know. I don’t like the type of politics that we are experiencing here in St Vincent. Everybody wants to go down into the gutter!

“I don’t want to tear down; I just want to speak about the issues, what is affecting us… We should be lifting each other and building the country.

“Over time it has gotten worse!” she lamented. “I am passionate about helping people… making sure that poor people are not taken advantage of. And if it means that I will have to be insulted for that, I have no problem at all. At the end of the day, I know God is my guide, my strength and my shield.”

Phillips also said that following the recent general elections, a lot needs to be done to reunite the nation.

“But our focus is in the wrong place,” she insisted. “Our focus now is supposed to be returning the nation to God. We have become a lawless country. A lot of religious leaders who are supposed to say ‘this is wrong’ and condemn certain things, they don’t do it.”

Phillips added: “Our focus should really be on getting our people back to God. That is the only way our land will be healed!” (JSV)