COP approves PSU’s request for peaceful protest
(Left) Shelly-Ann Alexander Ross, PSU public relations officer (Right) Commissioner of Police Colin John
Breaking News
September 8, 2021
COP approves PSU’s request for peaceful protest

Commissioner of Police Colin John has granted permission to the Public Service Union (PSU) to hold peaceful protests in Kingstown tomorrow, Thursday September 9.

This new development comes days after the trade union’s membership voted in favour of engaging in a procession in Kingstown – an act that John said was prohibited under the Public Order Act.

“We decided to write to the Commissioner again this morning in light of Parliament not sitting and the High Court being on holidays so in light of that, we did ask for the Union to have peaceful protest in the area we had specified in the letter before,” Shelly-Ann Alexander Ross, the PSU’s public relations officer told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday afternoon.

“He wrote to us a while ago, we just got the correspondence, that we were granted to have demonstrations which will be restricted to the area of the Kingstown Vegetable Market as we would have requested before. So, the procession we were denied but the protest, we would be allowed to have peaceful protests in the area of the Kingstown Vegetable market.”

The Union recently notified the COP of its intention to engage in demonstrations in the vicinity of the Kingstown Vegetable Market, White Chapel Road and Paul’s Avenue on September 8 and 9. John was also informed of the Union’s intention to engage in a procession around Kingstown on September 9.

John, in response to the PSU’s letters cited sections of the Public Order Act, and said the procession, which was intended to begin at the Kingstown Vegetable Market contravenes Section 10, as the location is within a 200-yard from a point within curtilage of the High Court and Parliament.

He therefore prohibited the procession across Kingstown but offered an alternative route from Highway Trading, Arnos Vale and the Sion Hill intersection between 10am and 4pm.

A Zoom meeting held on Saturday attended by 142 members of the PSU who voted on whether they should comply with the march route given by the Commissioner or protest in Kingstown despite the prohibition.

Of the 142 members present, 34 voted in favour of John’s proposed route, 64 voted to march in Kingstown and 44 abstained from voting.

Alexander-Ross told SEARCHLIGHT that the Union will accept the Commissioner’s new decision as persons were apprehensive about protesting in the capital tomorrow, despite the decision made at Saturday’s meeting.

“The fact that we would have voted and the members did decide that we would still come to Kingstown, there were some persons who would have wanted to be a part of the protest but they were hesitant in terms of coming to Kingstown and having any confrontation with the Police. So now that this is out and the members would know ok, we have permission to be in Kingstown, we’re hopeful that more people will be out tomorrow. This is good news for the Union,” she said.

In addition to tomorrow’s protest action, public service workers and nurses also agreed to a withdrawal of service, which began yesterday, September 7.

The PRO said withdrawal of service has been going well so far as it relates to nurses.

According to preliminary information received by the Union, the majority of nurses at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre have withdrawn their services.