Top law officials could face lawsuits

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By Carlena Knight

The Acting Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney and Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin could be the subjects of a lawsuit from a trade unionist and his daughter.

Erika James, who works at Sandals Grande Antigua claims that a Caucasian guest had wiped his face and hands with a towel and then threw it into her face before he walked away.

James went into further detail on the June 5 incident.

“Before turning off, a guest walked up behind of me and asked ‘can I have some paper napkins please?’ so I then said to the chef ‘can you check if there are any, if the bartender has any paper napkins?’. She then said to me no, so I am now saying to her now ‘let me go and check the podium’. While coming around from the bar, the guest took up one of the fabric white dinner napkins and said, ‘how about this?’ He wiped his hand, wiped his face, flung it in my face and walked away.”

According to James, after she made a report to the relevant authorities, the police were called in and the man was arrested and charged. However, before he could appear in court, he somehow got the clearance to leave the state.

James aired her frustration over the matter as, according to her, if the shoe were on the other foot, there would indeed be repercussions.

“He was begging me for him to pay me before he leaves because he doesn’t want this to happen and so forth. I want him to be punished, I want him to know that you cannot come to a country and disrespect us black people.

“It is not fair that you can just come here, throw a napkin in our face or spit in our face or hither because if it was the other way around probably you know, I hit him, we had a fight, I slapped him, I won’t have a job,” Erika James said.

Meantime, Erika’s father, Samuel James said he has written to the acting police commissioner and the attorney general seeking an explanation into the matter but he said several months later, no response has been received.

“We would have spoken to several police officers at the Police Headquarters who said that they will be looking into it and get back to us. Well, I am still awaiting at this late moment for any police to get back to us to give us any details as to why did the tourist who was charged with an offence against my daughter was not brought before the court.

“I have had to write to the police commissioner and express what we felt and asked that the matter be investigated.”

The trade unionist believes that there was a deliberate action by the authorities to ensure the tourist leaves the island without being prosecuted.

“There was a deliberate action to ensure that the tourist leave the country without being prosecuted and I am saying that we can’t have two sets of laws in this country, when it involves poor likkle black people that they are brought to the court and be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law and when we have white people involved that they are treated differently. We are not any racist, I am not any racist. I am a trade unionist leader and I am aware of cases where employees have been arrested and charged based on reports made by tourists.

“Should we just allow persons to come into our country and simply use and abuse [us] and discriminate and perhaps show racism against our people and just simply do nothing for it but when these same tourists against employees, they are treated to the fullest extent of the law. That can’t stand,” Samuel James said yesterday. OBSERVER media tried to contact Acting Police Commissioner Rodney and Attorney General Benjamin for their comments on the matter, but our calls went unanswered.

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