As widespread opposition to the government’s public sector vaccine mandate continues, some individuals appear to be taking that opposition a bit far, threatening violence against government officials.
Since the mandate was announced last week, groups like the Antigua and Barbuda Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) and the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU), along with the major opposition political parties, the United Progressive Party (UPP) and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) have voiced their disapproval, calling the move forceful, to say the least.
Despite their displeasure, however, these groups have been utilising what can be deemed ‘appropriate’ channels of expression, from strongly-worded media statements to stay-away protests. The AT&LU even announced yesterday that it has “received legal counsel and has commenced the process to challenge the government’s mandatory vaccination policy.”
On the other side of the coin, there are some individuals who have been expressing their discontent with the mandate in nefarious ways.
According to a confidential source, some government officials have since met with threats of violence against themselves and/or their families, under the premise that they are ‘slapping food from the mouths of the unvaccinated public sector workers.’
This has happened before, in August – when discussions about the possibility of mandatory vaccinations gathered pace – Prime Minister Gaston Browne responded to violent threats he had received, promising to defend himself and his family against any attempts at harm.
The PM even highlighted the situation in St Vincent, where Prime Minster Dr Ralph Gonsalves was injured during a demonstration against mandatory vaccinations, assuring that he would respond in kind if the same circumstances were to befall him.
Now, the police are attempting to intervene in this more contentious atmosphere, before things could escalate to that point.
In a statement yesterday, the force noted that it is aware of threats of violence being issued against the lives and property of other individuals. The statement did not disclose the source or the direction of the threats, but warned that that type of behavior is deemed unacceptable and cautioned against the unlawful practice.
The statement further reminded that it is an offence under the Electronic Crimes Act of 2013 for anyone to openly threaten, libel, or slander the character of a person on any electronic platform.