Opposition supporters march on Kingstown
Front Page
March 2, 2007

Opposition supporters march on Kingstown


With thousands behind him and defying the police who blocked off Heritage Square, President of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace was adamant that his supporters were going to hold a rally at Heritage Square despite not getting a permit from the Town Board.

In a march for “the country” and to “get the Unity Labour Party (ULP) out of office” on Wednesday, February 28, thousands of protestors adorned themselves in the political party’s colour of yellow and flocked at the NDP headquarters at Murray Road where they sang and danced to music from the sound systems on trucks and echoed the MC’s cry of “Enough is Enough!”{{more}}

Bearing placards reading “No Justice, No Peace”, “2000 Plus Fired”, “Victim number 958” among others, the festive mood was hyped by MCs Elwardo Lynch, Junior Bacchus, Matthew Thomas and Vynette Frederick who made calls for Dr Gonsalves to resign from office.

The Special Service Unit (SSU) quickly locked the gates leading to the House of Assembly which was in session, as the crowd paused in the street just outside the area and called for it to be opened.

But it was the usually law abiding Eustace who surprised many when the crowd moved further up the road and the Opposition Leader militantly charged his way into Heritage Square, with the Green Party’s Leader Ivan O’Neal at his side.

When asked by the SEARCHLIGHT if his defiance was an act of civil disobedience Eustace replied, “Call it what you will, it is the people’s square and we have a right to hold a peaceful meeting in here!”

He passionately continued, “We want the government to understand that we are serious. When we are making all these comments week after week, year after year about the things that are happening in this country, everyone thinks that it is a joke. Well it is no joke now. We are serious about what we are doing.”

Eustace complained that he was deliberately prevented from getting permission to have a rally in the vicinity and believed that the Minister of Culture’s move to have activities for nine days in the area was the government’s delaying tactic.

The Opposition Leader stressed, “Since the year 2001 they (ULP) had marches in this country without permission from anybody and we were given the run around to get here.

“All this thing about Heritage Village is a farce because we were offered here from 7 p.m. and they came and barred it off yesterday.”

Eustace explained that he was told by the Town Board that the rally would disturb businesses around Heritage Square but said that he was more concerned about holding the rally at his headquarters which would have disturbed the students of the Girls’ High School, Intermediate High, Thomas Saunders Secondary and CW Prescod Primary.

Meanwhile Superintendent of Police Bertram Cumberbatch pointed out that the route for the protestors was supposed to be from Richmond Hill Road, left onto Granby Street, then along Sharp Street, onto Bay Street, then Linley Street and back to the NDP Headquarters.

Cumberbatch continued, “No application or permit to hold a rally at Heritage Village was given, we have no documentation from the NDP for a rally and they were instructed to march back to the headquarters.”

Ignoring the presence of the Black Squad, Eustace climbed up on the truck where he admitted on the microphone that it was strategy not to reveal where they were going to have the rally.

He said that he “didn’t care if he would be arrested” and said that he was standing up for the people of this country. He expressed concern that a legislation which provided guidelines as to how police could search and arrest people was passed and said that this was the ULP’s administration’s way of taking away the freedom of Vincentians.

Eustace accused the ULP of being cozy with drug barons who fund their campaigns and lashed out at Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for attacking the United States while on Vincentian soil and said he had strong objection to Chavez “meddling in this country’s business.”

Eustace said that no one from the NDP was present to greet Chavez at the airport because his visit was more a partisan political visit rather than a State visit.

With fire in his voice, Eustace warned that the signing of the ALBA memorandum would cause friction between CARICOM member States and the United States and said that Dr Gonsalves was “playing with fire” and needed to make decisions democratically instead of in a unilateral way.

Demonstrating that he was a democratic leader, Eustace read a resolution which outlined reasons why the ULP government should resign and called on the gathering to indicate with a show of hands if they wanted the resolution to be taken to the next level to have the ULP administration removed.