by Linda Straker
- Members of GUT violated agreed route and went up into Ministerial Complex
- Senior police officers seen leading protesters away from complex
- Police concerned of activities in direct violation of Emergency Powers regulations
Marvin Andall, outgoing President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) said that the leadership of the union apologised to the police not for violating the public health regulations, but because there was a violation of the agreed route for the peaceful march.
“There was a diversion in the route that was agreed to. We went into the Ministerial Complex and that was not part of the conditions when permission was granted,” Andall explained after the police issued a news release informing the public that the union’s leadership expressed regret for the action taken earlier in the week.
“The RGPF has engaged the leadership of the Grenada Union of Teachers who has acknowledged their error and apologised. Similarly, there is an ongoing endeavour to meet with other offending parties, to encourage compliance with the lawful requirements,” said the news release which did not provide the reason why the union acknowledged its error and apologised
“The error is in regards to the route, we had to only circle the Tanteen main road and end at old Trafford playing field but members went up into the complex,” said Andall. Photos and videos of the protest on the compound of the Ministerial Complex do not show the police escort vehicle accompanying the protest, but senior police officers appear to be leading the protesters away from the Government buildings at the Botanical Gardens.
The release from the police said that officers at Ministerial Complex chose “the path of forbearance in enforcing the Covid-19 Regulations. This is evident through dialogue and collaboration in the context of the prevailing socio-economic realities. However, should these violations continue, the response from the RGPF will be urgent and decisive to ensure compliance with the regulations.”
Public Health regulations for adjusting to living with Covid-19 legally provides for wearing of face masks and physical distancing by citizens when in public. The release from the police said that it is concerned that organisations and groups have been participating in demonstrations, protest actions, vigils and other social activities in direct violation of the Emergency Powers (Covid-19) Regulations.
“While it is appreciated that peaceful protest is an integral part of any practicing democracy and that there should be no attempt to unlawfully stifle or hinder the rights of anyone to exercise such freedom, it must be conducted within the parameters of existing legislative frameworks.” The release referred to the carnival-like demonstrations of teachers and public officers through the streets of Grenada.