Diaspora shows solidarity with SVG’s UN Ambassador
April 20, 2012
Diaspora shows solidarity with SVG’s UN Ambassador

Close to 100 Vincentians gathered last Wednesday evening at the Friends of Crown Heights Centre in Brooklyn, New York, to discuss and be updated on the issues arising out of the arrest{{more}} and detention of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Camillo Gonsalves by a New York Cop on March 28.

In his presentation, Gonsalves gave his version of the event and spoke of support he received from the diplomatic community and other supporters in SVG, the Caribbean and around the world.

He also outlined, to a very attentive and supportive audience, actions being taken and those that may be taken in the future, including legal and diplomatic measures. Gonsalves spoke of a visit paid to him at his office by United States (US) Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who is also president of the UN Security Council.

During the visit, they discussed the matter of his arrest and Rice expressed the regret of the United States government, he said. Gonsalves said that this shows the level of seriousness with which the US authorities are viewing the issue.

After Gonsalves’ presentation, members of the audience expressed unwavering support for the ambassador and the actions outlined by him. When asked whether marches or other public actions were planned, Gonsalves said that it was up to the Vincentian Diaspora to organize activities as they see fit.

Deputy Counsel General Edson Augustus told SEARCHLIGHT that the town meeting was called because of the number of phone calls, faxes and emails that were received by the SVG consulate from Vincentians and other Caribbean nationals, expressing their dissatisfaction and demanding action for the manner in which the ambassador was treated.

“I don’t see why we should be divided on this issue and we should follow the right protocols in dealing with it; we should treat it as it should be treated, as an international diplomatic incident,” he pointed out.

Prominent Vincentian and Director of Friends of Crown Heights Centre Vaughn Toney, in a written statement, said that as a resident of New York City for the past 43 years, he has seen many changes, but one thing remains the same; the racist attitude of the NYPD towards black and Latino people. Tony also said that the motto: Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect, written on every police vehicle in the city, is often disregarded and rarely practiced by the police when they interact with people of colour.

“And so today I stand in solidarity with Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves to fight against the historic abusive and disrespectful behavior of the NYPD towards people of color in this city,” the statement said.

The meeting was organized by the SVG Diaspora Committee of New York in conjunction with the SVG consulate in New York. The event opened with remarks by Augustus followed by Maxwell Haywood, who chaired the evening proceedings and also heads the Diaspora committee.

The event was streamed live on the Internet. It was also carried live on Star Fm in SVG.