Members of the public are wondering why a peaceful protest in St Kitts on Friday led to several persons being arrested.
Earlier in the week, a poster which circulated on social media invited persons to “Stand up for your rights” and “Let your voice be heard” at the peaceful walk through the streets of Basseterre.
It cited “ending segregation and manipulation” as the reason for the ‘peaceful walk’.
The walk was initially discouraged by the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force after it was brought to their attention.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Adolph Adams said the Public Order Act requires that events need to be approved by the Commissioner of Police and no application had been received for this event, therefore no permission had been given.
Adams also informed that any event carried out without such permission would be considered unlawful and would be brought to an end “by any reasonable means”.
“It is an offence for any person to organize, partake, incite or refuse to disperse when asked to do so by the security forces and on summary conviction, you will be entitled to a penalty of EC$2500 or 6 months in prison or both,” he said.
Despite the warnings, persons lined Church Street with placards and social media was abuzz with live videos of the happenings in Basseterre.
Shouts of “No Vaccine” could be heard on Church Street as it became clear, based on interviews and footage on social media that one reason for the peaceful walk was to stand in solidarity with persons who have lost their jobs due to their choice to remain unvaccinated.
One protester said: “This government is trying to implement vaccination. They said they are not making it compulsory but they are coercing the people to take it. If you have a job, you won’t be able to work without a vaccine; if that is not force, it is coercion.
Also, the right to privacy, the right to put whatever you want in your body is being taken away.”
Another protester said: “We are not here as a violent group. We are just here to show our disgust because this is the only way we can fight back and we are not fighting with violence. We are showing people exactly what is going on in this nation.”
Police were on scene to enforce the COVID-19 protocols of mask-wearing and social distancing and made several attempts to disperse what can only be described as a peaceful protest.
Tear gas was reportedly expended into the crowd, causing respiratory issues for some who had to be transported to the Joseph N France General Hospital.
Labour Party Representative for Constituency Number Eight Dr Terrence Drew was live on Facebook.
“It is very sad that it has come to this that people, who exercised their democratic rights, their constitutional rights, their human rights, expressing themselves in a peaceful way and being locked up.”
In summarising the day’s events, Leader of the Opposition Dr Denzil Douglas posted: “I’m now at the Basseterre Police Station where Mr. Shaq Benjamin Bassue “Model Cop”, a former police officer and social media podcaster, has been arrested.”
Note: Mr. Benjamin Bassue “ModelCop” was responsible for recording the featured video above. He literally risked his freedom for his fellow Kittitians. Mr. Bassue is a freedom fighter and a hero. Let us pray for Shaq and support him. Video of Shaq being arrested.
Special mention must be given to Mr. Bruce Penny who spoke about his disgust towards the totalitarian Harris government. He was the mouthpiece for many Kittitians under the boot of Harris might!
“A young lady and mom from St Paul’s village of Constituency Number Six was also arrested. Several people a moment ago were unnecessarily tear-gassed as they walked peacefully up Church Street by police hidden in the precincts of the St George’s Parish Church, Basseterre.
Several women are now at the Accident & Emergency Department of the JNF General Hospital, seeking medical attention from teargas inhalation. This is blatantly wrong.”
The Government of St Kitts and Nevis, like governments around the world, has been encouraging citizens and residents to get vaccinated to protect themselves and loved ones against the effects of the coronavirus.
Like many countries around the world, vaccine hesitancy is present in St Kitts and Nevis and it has been a source of contention due to the fact that some business places have opted to terminate the employment of employees who refuse to take the vaccine for personal reasons.
Also, with the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine, persons have raised concerns about having children vaccinated after being told to get vaccinated to protect the children.
This display in St Kitts and Nevis signaling discontent and disagreement as it pertains to COVID-19 vaccines is just one of the public protests that have taken place across the region in recent weeks.