Front Page
June 4, 2004

A Searchlight reporter had his camera snatched away by a policeman in Canouan last Sunday.
Reporter Hawkins Nanton said that while on assignment at the Canouan Regatta just outside the Canouan Sailing Club, his attention was drawn to a fracas between a dreadlocked man and police officers. Nanton began shooting photographs of the incident. {{more}} His work was however rudely interrupted when police officer Higharchy Mayers approached and snatched the reporter’s camera away from him.
Nanton said that tension between the officers and the dreadlocksman heightened after the latter refused to walk when efforts were made to arrest him for indulging in a fight with his girlfriend earlier that afternoon
The dreadlock was in the process of receiving several blows across his body when Mayers came from behind Nanton and grabbed the camera.
Nanton said he went to the Canouan Police Station and reported the incident and after hearing his complaint, a senior officer asked Mayers to return the camera to the reporter.
“It’s time police officers in these parts understand that they cannot violate the rights of media practitioners and get away with it. The police has a duty to perform so does the media in a country that has a free press,” said Nanton very concerned.
“St.Vincent and the Grenadines is a democratic country and it’s time overzealous police officers think first before they act,” Nanton stressed.
“I see myself not only carrying out a duty for my media house but one for the public,” Nanton noted.
This is not the first time Nanton has had a brush with the police in the execution of his role as a journalist.
On Monday, November 26, 2001, Nanton was manhandled by a Special Service Unit officer while he photographed SSU officers on guard at Owens Bank, one of the banks owned in Kingstown by fugitive banker Thierry Nano.
The SSU officer had asked Nanton to hand over his camera and after he refused to submit to the demand he was grabbed by his pants waist and pulled to the nearby New Bank Limited where other SSU officers were stationed with their M-16 rifles and FBI agents and members of CID searched the bank.
An apology was issued to Nanton the following week by the SSU.