THE NEW DEMOCRATIC Party was at the centre of protest action this week, which saw many Vincentians turning up outside the House of Assembly to demonstrate against several issues they say are currently affecting the country.
The protests took place on Tuesday and Thursday during the sittings of Parliament.
“ A lot of things are upside down in this country and we need to set them right,” Dr Godwin Friday, the opposition leader said as he addressed the crowd on Thursday afternoon following the adjournment of yesterday’s sitting.
The NDP president and several other members have been mobilising people to attend the protests via radio and a recent public meeting carried live on Facebook.
Friday said the demonstrations are the people’s way of calling for justice and democracy in the country.
“Nobody is advocating violence but what we’re saying is that we will not be intimidated. We will stand up for our rights and no matter how many police officers come and how much license they feel they have to brutalise people; we will be out here on the streets,” he said, making reference to the protesters’ chant of “no justice, no peace”.
Protests have been ongoing in St Vincent triggered by the allegations that government senator, Ashelle Morgan assaulted and threatened Diamond resident, Cornelius John on April 13 and no charge had been laid weeks after.
Friday also spearheaded calls for Morgan to withdraw or be made to withdraw from her position as senator and Deputy Speaker in the House, pending the investigations.
Morgan has since been charged in relation to this allegation and has proceeded on one-month’s leave in the first instance as she awaits the conclusion of the matter, which has been adjourned to a date in August at the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court.
The opposition leader said he was quite pleased with the turnout at the protests and continued to urge persons to attend future protests.
“That is what we are about in our country, my dear people so let us stand up for our rights. Don’t be folded into submission. Don’t let them feel that somehow that they got you where they want you,” he said. “The government is the ones who should say that they are afraid of the people, not the other way around with people afraid of the government. That is dictatorship…” Tuesday’s demonstration saw several protesters surrounding the vehicle carrying Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, banging and booing as he took his leave from the House.
It also saw members of the large crowd clashing with Police, who were deployed to manage the situation as protesters at various points on Tuesday pulled down barricades and dragged them into the streets in an attempt to block the roads and halt the flow of traffic.
While some are of the view that the police acted with restraint on the first day of protest this week, others have expressed displeasure with the aggression of some, including a senior officer who threatened to have persons overturning barriers shot.
Superintendent of Police Trevor Bailey, one of the few senior police officers on the ground on Tuesday could be seen attempting to placate angry protesters, stating that the police had no intentions of shooting anyone.
On Thursday afternoon, there was a steady flow of big trucks through the area in front of the Parliament/ Court House building.
“Them na weary send up them thing dey? Ah NEMO big truck and them. Them ah wilfully,” one protest said yesterday afternoon as a truck passed with stacks of bottled water on the bed behind it.
It is likely that protests will continue to take place, as Friday encouraged persons to protest at the next sitting of the House of Assembly slated for July 29.