Police Commissioner to three Musketeers:
“Police headquarters is a place where well armed men with ammunition are…We don’t want any weapon to go off accidentally and something to happen to anybody.” – Commissioner Green
(By Mondale Smith)
“You are free to picket once you do not break the law” is Police Commissioner Henry Greene’s message to Social activist Mark Benschop and Trade unionists Lincoln Lewis and Norris Witter.
In invited comments on Friday afternoon, the Commissioner, citing security concerns, said, “Any rational, sensible, thinking person would understand why the force would not want a protest directly outside of the police headquarters.”
He dubbed the location “a place where well armed men with ammunition are” and said, “We don’t want any weapon to go off accidentally and something to happen to anybody.”
Benschop speaking for trade unionists Witter and Lewis said, “Statements like these make us believe that the police commissioner is threatening us.”
He said the three will not accept any threats from the Commissioner and resolved that they “will be back outside his office.”
“If he (the commissioner) wants to let those guns to go off accidentally and kill anyone of us then he will have to suffer the consequences of his actions thereafter,” Benschop noted.
Benschop reiterated that his group is there peacefully exercising their constitutional rights and will not allow the likes of the Commissioner to circumvent them. “The ball is now in the commissioner’s court …let him pull the trigger,” Benschop emphatically said.
As had been done in the past the Commissioner said, “We’ve asked persons before to go to Parade Street or further east away from the main building; closer to Camp Street and we’ve had co-operation.”
However, he said that Benschop, Witter and Lewis ‘three musketeers’ have continually defied that and he added that on Wednesday they acted to provoke his ranks but the matter was left alone.
Commissioner Green noted, “We want to show the public that we are not there to arrest people… they were not arrested because the force wanted to avoid conflict and further confrontation.”
The Commissioner also pointed out that this time around the protesters wore arm bands.
Attorney-at-law Khemraj Ramjattan recently said that there is no law that stipulates that protesters must wear arm bands, but Commissioner Greene said, “He missed section 27:2 of the summery jurisdiction offences act…there is no law that prevents you from having a picket but law requires you to wear armbands and to walk three abreast. It’s there.”
The Commissioner said that on the day that they were arrested, the three were not as they should have been, defied orders, made a lot of noise and disturbed a function at the Police officers Mess Annex.
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