It was a dark day in our fair State yesterday as the strong arm of the government was deployed against the good citizens. It was an unnecessary use of force, and we suggest that by its overreach, this administration may have inadvertently hardened the positions of many of those who had, perhaps, not yet made up their minds. The administration has also shown that it is not above the use of force, even on small matters. We would do well to be guided accordingly. We here at NEWSCO condemn the deployment of the police against the citizenry, who were merely seeking to have their voices heard.
So there they were, gathering on Market Street in the minutes leading up to the protest, which was scheduled to kick off at 3:00 pm. According to the reports of those who were there, the police had already begun hinting darkly to the people that they should disperse. They refused to relent. And the wrath of the State was subsequently unleashed. Tear gas canister spewed the eye-burning, discomfiting gas. People coughed, their eyes burning, running for cover. Some fainted. And as if that brutish use of force was not enough, the police began firing rubber bullets. They almost seemed to be trigger happy, firing up and down the surrounding streets with gay abandon. Many innocent bystanders, along with the protesters, were hurt. Even some police officers succumbed to the tear gas. And the angels in high heaven wept!
After all, this was not an unruly gathering of rabble rousers, bent on mischief and mayhem. These were law-abiding citizens who were simply seeking “peacefully to assemble to petition their government for redress of grievances.” It is a right enshrined in our Constitution. Unfortunately, the administration trampled on that right with its heavy-handed action yesterday.
Of course, the smoke from the tear gas canisters wafted its way heavenward – a foul-smelling savour – an affront to the Biblical article of faith that mankind ought to be free to choose. What a thing – in the land where the protesters were staring down the riot squad and bravely singing, “God bless Antigua, land so dear to me . . . where land and sea make beauty, let every man be free!” Help us, Lord!
And there was more smoke too – that of the many fires that were set by the protesters. Those of us who were watching on social media could not help but be aghast at the new dimension that was being opened up in our political discourse. It reminded many of us of protests in Beirut and Baghdad and Port-au-Prince.
How unlike what was happening in Barbados where BARBADOS TODAY [August 7, 2021] was reporting, “Close to 2000 Barbadians and non-nationals marched through the streets of the city today to send a message to authorities that they are strongly against any move to make the Covid-19 vaccines mandatory in Barbados. The march, which started at Pelican Village, with what could be described as a large crowd, turned into hundreds by the time it got to Broad Street. The young and old from all professions, socio-economic and religious backgrounds, a few with placards in hand, walked through the hot sun, chanting “no vaccines” as they participated in the march, which was organised by the Barbados Concerned Citizens Against Mandated and Coerced Covid Vaccination. Under the watchful eye of members of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), and shoppers who rushed out of stores to get a glimpse of the procession, which ended at Independence Square, the protestors made it clear that they have the right to choose what goes into their bodies. Some drivers waved at the walkers, others screamed that they were in agreement with the action, while scores honked their horns.” Hmmm!Talk about an even-handed approach where the rights of the citizens are duly respected.
Antiguans and Barbudans did not rest easy last night. The administration has thrown down the gauntlet, and we seriously doubt that the protesters will be cowed. Au contraire, we believe that the boot on the necks of the people will only serve to stiffen their resolve. Hmmm! The boot on the necks of the people! The pursuit and exercise of raw power! It certainly brings to mind, King Short Shirt’s POWER AND AUTHORITY, the title to this piece. “Power rules the world today, and power corrupts they say / And absolute power corrupts you absolutely / It can change a man who has a heart of gold / Make him cruel, wicked, self-centred and cold / Many men in this land, many organisation / Fought for freedom and justice throughout the land / When they have power and authority, they don’t give a damn about nobody / Prostituting the island to all and sundry / Making my people cry / Exploiting, oppressing, less freedom, more suffering / Ah wonder how we so vile. Think it over, my friend . . .”
Yes, folks, when they have power and authority, they don’t give a damn . . .
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