Senator Cummings claims police officer cuffed him in the mouth
Front Page
May 4, 2007
Senator Cummings claims police officer cuffed him in the mouth

PROTEST ACTION by the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) at the entrance to the Grenadines wharf turned violent last Friday, April 30, and the events have left Senator St. Claire Leacock disheartended.

The NDP had staged the protest against the Port Authority’s introduction of a $1 user fee for persons traveling to the Grenadines.{{more}}

The whole matter reportedly exploded after some protesters, after a six-hour vigil, sought to storm the gates of the wharf when they were opened to let in a vehicle.

The protestors were apparently attempting to get onto the wharf without going through the terminal building and paying the user fee. This is when they clashed with the police.

It is during this clash that opposition parliamentarians Senator Daniel Cummings and Dr. Godwin Friday claim that they were violated.

Senator Leacock said that he saw a police officer reach for his service revolver and heard the officer threaten to shoot his colleague, Senator Daniel Cummings.

Leacock said that the behaviour of the police has left him disheartened and has led him to believe that “they have a lack of appreciation for the rights of a political party to exercise a privilege of the constitution – namely the right to assemble.”

Leacock said that the behaviour of some police officers was not becoming of the office that they held and accused some of them of making politically motivated remarks.

“Same licks in three years time,” is what the senator said he heard a policeman bellow, which he took to mean that the results of the next scheduled general elections would mirror that of the December 2005 polls.

Describing the events on that Friday afternoon as “a new path of struggle”, the NDP vice president said that the party stands shoulder to shoulder with Senator Daniel Cummings and parliamentary representative Dr Godwin Friday. Both men have charged that the police abused them along with other supporters on the afternoon of the match.

Leacock said that he believed that the disposition of the members of the police force who were present on the day of the protest action reflected a small note of revenge because of what transpired when the NDP held a large march and rally on Wednesday, March 28.

While permission had been granted for the street march, the NDP did not have clearance to enter Heritage Square and conduct a rally, and had a small spat with police when they deviated into the square during the March protest action.

“We ready for you this time,” Leacock claims that police officers shouted.

Dr Godwin Friday, parliamentary representative for the Northern Grenadines, speaking to the media shortly after the fiasco said that he was treated like a common criminal.

“I was roughed up, pushed and tossed around like a common criminal,” Dr Friday said.

He said that he did not resist and kept his hands behind his back and actually knelt down before the officer in submission “so that every one could see what he was doing to me,” said the ruffled politician.

Acting Commissioner of Police Bertram Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT at press time that he had not yet received a full report about what transpired and was unable to comment. Meanwhile, Senator Cummings has sent an official letter of complaint to the commissioner, demanding an investigation into the incident.

In the letter dated April 30, Senator Cummings accused Constable Alpheus Stapleton of cuffing him in his mouth and threatening to shoot him. Senator Cummings says that he had to seek medical attention following the alleged assault.

Party leader Arhnim Eustace, speaking at the hastily arranged press conference, said that his party is unmoved by the police action and will continue to defy the implementation of the $1 user fee-which he says is a tax.

“We regard the tax as unfair and any tax that is applicable only to a particular part of the society – we believe that such a tax is unconstitutional,” said the defiant opposition leader. He also said that the police action was way out of line.