Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 22nd 2013 Contents DEREK ACHONG
"I thought it was another
This was the explanation DCP
Mervyn Richardson gave yester-
day to justify his intervention in
a demonstration staged by the
Joint Trade Union Movement
(JTUM) outside the Hall of Jus-
Richardson detained Oilfields
Workers Trade Union (OWTU)
president general Ancel Roget
during the intervention.
While commenting on the inci-
dent at yesterday s police press
briefing, Richardson said: "The
Police Commissioner and I were
in a meeting at National Security
Ministry when I got word that
there were people outside the
Hall of Justice and they appeared
to be in a state where people were
fearful that another 1990 insur-
rection was about to take place."
Richardson noted that the
demonstrators were wearing black
clothing, had their faces covered
in handkerchiefs and were car-
rying "big black sticks with flags."
"You didn t know who it was,
I thought it was a coup myself.
I had police standing by in readi-
ness," he said.
The demonstration, which
began around 9 am, was organ-
ised by labour leaders and social
activists to mark the second
anniversary of the state of emer-
gency declared by Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar between
August 21 and December 5, 2011.
Roget, along with a little over
three dozen demonstrators, were
all dressed in black and wore T-
shirts with the writing: "We will
not forget August 21, 2011." The
demonstrators marched silently
around the Hall of Justice.
However, the activity took an
unexpected twist when Richard-
son intervened to stop it, deeming
the action illegal. Richardson said
the demonstrators were breaking
the law by concealing their faces
and blocking the free flow of
pedestrians on the sidewalk. He
later said they also did not have
police permission to stage the
In the process, Richardson
bypassed his juniors and took
matters into his own hands by
detaining Roget for almost 20
minutes, after he allegedly refused
to comply with his (Richardson)
Roget was personally escorted
by Richardson to the Central
Police Station at St Vincent
Street, where he spent a short
time being questioned by
Richardson before his two attor-
neys arrived. He was eventually
allowed to leave and returned to
his fellow demonstrators. How-
ever, as a result of the interven-
tion, the demonstration was dis-
Richardson said he asked Roget
if he had sought permission from
the Police Commissioner for the
"When I questioned him on
whether he made an application
to march or gather he answered
in the negative," Richardson said.
"I asked him a number of other
questions which he could not
supply answers for, so I did advise
him to take his protest to other
places in a more peaceful manner
and to desist from blocking the
In an interview outside the
police station, Roget s attorney,
Vasheist Maharaj, said his client s
version of the events were dif-
ferent to Richardson s.
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Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar s constituents
staged a fiery protest yesterday
over deplorable road conditions.
Police and the members of the
Fire Service quickly responded,
however, putting out the burning
tyres and ordering the residents
of Jhulai Trace, Penal Rock Road,
to clear the debris off the road.
No one was arrested.
The protest, which saw about
40 residents venturing out of
their homes around 6 am, was
led by housewives and elderly
people, spokesman Erros Seejat-
"People are fed up," he said.
What really triggered the
action, he said, was that after
waiting 30 years for the trace to
be paved, work began on Monday
but only one-eighth of the road
"The residents were very
upset," Seejattan said.
"We made complaints before
and the councillor even lives on
the trace itself. Other roads are
being taken care of and this one
was totally neglected."
He said apart from bad roads,
residents also have to deal with
After the action, he said a
meeting was held with residents
and representatives from Persad-
Bissessar s constituency office
and the Palo Seco Agricultural
"They promised to do a total
review of the project, starting
from tomorrow (today)."
He said the officials also prom-
ised to address the flooding prob-
PM's constituents stage fiery
protest over bad roads
Roget pulled up by DCP for protest...
'I thought it was another coup'
"My client s instructions are he
was taken forcefully against his will
and taken into police custody. When
I got into the station, this was con-
firmed by ACP Wayne Dick," Maharaj
"However, when we reached to
speak to DCP Richardson he denied
that and he said that Mr Roget came
voluntarily and forced himself into
the police station."
Maharaj said his client would be
considering legal action.
In addressing the issue, acting
Police Commissioner Stephen
Williams advised the public on the
laws relating to protests and public
"What I want to share with the
nation is the law does not allow peo-
ple of their own volition to engage in
public meetings and public march-
es...Once you engage in public meet-
ing or public march without permis-
sion it is illegal," Williams said.
He said citizens who wished to hold
such meetings and demonstrations
should apply to do so between 14
days and 48 hours before the event.
He said he would only refuse to grant
permission if the police could not
adequately oversee an event.
"You see we need to balance things
in the country, because we are dealing
with a democratic republic and people
want to express their concerns about
things happening in the country and
in any real democracy people can so
express," Williams said.
Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson, left, talks with OWTU president general Ancel Roget, right,
outside the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, before escorting him to Police Headquarters yesterday. Richardson
objected to members of the Joint Trade Union Movement staging a demonstration commemorating the second
anniversary of the state of emergency called by the Government to curb crime.
PHOTO COURTESY OWTU'S FACEBOOK PAGE
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