Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob has been told by First Wave movement leader Umar Abdullah that there will be two more “peaceful” marches this month.
This follows Abdullah’s indictment on Monday for leading a march around Queen’s Park Savannah without permission from the acting police commissioner.
The march ended when police used tear gas to quell the crowd of around 300 people.
Speaking to the Express last night over the phone, Jacob said he had received Abdullah’s letter and a process will begin to negotiate with him and advise if permission will be granted for the events.
Jacob said he thought now was not the time for such events as there is a pandemic where thousands of people have died, but the process will take place to liaise with Abdullah as per law.
In his letter to Jacob, Abdullah said the First Wave Movement would like to “inform him” of two upcoming events, titled “Push-Back 2, The Awakening” and “The Worldwide Rally For Freedom”.
The letter did not ask for permission but informed Jacob and requested a police presence.
Abdullah said the events are scheduled for January 16 and 22, 2022 at Queen’s Park Savannah from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are an initiative of The Ground Report and the World Wide Rally for Freedom.
The letter said Abdullah, in accordance with established protocol and procedures, “takes responsibility” to inform the police commissioner’s office of these events.
The letter called for police presence at the events to ensure that all public health protocols are followed and maintained.
Follow the national flag
The letter said Abdullah would carry the national flag and all people would be asked to wear masks and respect safe social distancing between spaces.
He further said that during both events, participants will not be allowed to congregate unless they are seated with their families and all other participants will be asked to follow the national flag around the savannah, some of which will carry national flags. themselves.
“We want to engage our leaders and encourage them to do what is right for the people. We want to let people know that peaceful protest and dialogue can make all the difference,” the letter reads.
“There is no need for violence. We recognize the need for strong convictions and a strong desire to end these mandates of experimental injections, safe zones and segregations by closing the gap between the people and the leaders,” he added.
Jacob describes the law
Asked last night for comment, Jacob said the law says the commissioner of police has the power to decide whether such events take place.
He said that under the Public Meetings Act, Section 109 of the Summary Offenses Act talks about notifying the Commissioner of Police within 24 hours.
However, he said the law goes further to say whether the Commissioner of Police, having regard to the time and circumstances for which the public meeting is being held, has reasonable grounds to maintain that the holding of such meetings may constitute a violation of peace or public order. order, he can write to the person prohibiting such a meeting.
“Even though the law initially says ‘notify,’ it actually indicates authorization, so the police commissioner can prohibit such a meeting or the commissioner can indicate what conditions the meeting can take place and what parameters,” he said. -he declares.
He noted that yesterday’s Express editorial referred to Section 109 regarding notification to the commissioner, but said the law went further regarding the authority held by the senior official.
He said a person cannot simply notify the police commissioner and then proceed with the event.
He said he would send the letter to the DCP of Investigations for investigation and that Abdullah could be called in for questioning.
“A decision will be made based on what they (DCP) tell me whether they should go ahead or not,” he said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic must be taken into account. .
He added that if one intends to hold a public march, Summary Offenses Act 112, Chapter 11:02, states that a permit must be obtained from the Commissioner of Police for such an event.
Jacob said he was grateful that Abdullah wrote to him, so now the discussion process can begin for mutual understanding.
“We will be looking to hire him because I don’t think now is the right time for it, with the height of Covid-19 and the number of our nationals, brothers and sisters dying. Everyone around me can talk about a deceased family member and we have some 32 officers who have lost their lives to Covid-19,” he said.
He said the police fully support the democratic rights of the people. “Do you think we want to hire people? The people there are our brothers and sisters, we want peace, harmony. We don’t want a repeat (of Sunday’s protest) at all,” he said.
Jacob said police spent two and a half hours talking to protesters on Sunday and warning them of Covid-19 and many understood ‘but when the core group of people realized the police were able to persuade people to go home, they decided to operate in a particular way”.
Jacob said there are real people who protest and there are “troublemakers” who directly seek confrontation.
“Well, we are trained for this and if they want to undermine the rule of law in Trinidad and Tobago, our police officers will respect the rule of law and what the law provides us with, we will exercise it accordingly” , he said, but stressed that the first approach is mediation.