ST. VINCENT: – The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has accused the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of instructing police to deny them the use of Heritage Square in Kingstown, to host a rally in celebration of the one year anniversary of their Constitution Referendum victory.
NDP General Secretary Allan Cruickshank told supporters at a campaign rally on Wednesday, Nov. 24, that the development is part of a “plan” to inhibit the party’s election campaign.
“There is a plan; and the instructions have been already received from the Prime Minister to block the NDP from having its functions in the country,” he said at a rally in Carapan, East St. George.
“If it wasn’t for a shame and a disgrace they might have stop[ped] us from have this meeting too, or stop[ped] us from having meeting all about,” he added
The celebratory event will be held in Sion Hill on the outskirt of Kingstown, instead of Heritage Square in the heart of the city, as originally planned.
The event is being held to celebrate the party’s success in securing a majority “no” vote against proposed changes to the nation’s Constitution during the Nov. 25 referendum last year.
Cruickshank, a former Member of Parliament, said that Acting Commissioner of Police Bertie Pompey wanted to “prevent” the NDP from having the event, ahead of the Dec. 13 general elections.
“But, no Pompey, no Ralph, no Black Squad, no green squad can stop us from [having] our celebration. None of them,” he said, referring also to Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves and tactical units of the Police Force.
He said the Kingstown Town Board was also part of the decision to deny the NDP use of Heritage Square, which was used to stage the ULP’ “Red Fete” last Friday.
“They [are] giving us problems. … I want the whole world to hear that we have a police state, dictatorship in this country,” Cruickshank said.
“Regrettably, I have to inform you that permission is not granted to the New Democratic Party to hold its Referendum celebrations at Heritage Square on Thursday, November 25th, 2010 due to an application for the use of the said venue,” Cruickshank quoted Pompey as writing in his response to the NDP’s request for permission to use the venue.
“…I want you to drive down to Heritage Square right now and see if anybody [is] using it. Where is this previous application, and from whom, Pompey? Tell us!” Cruickshank said.
He further quoted Pompey as denying the NDP permission to cordon off South River Road, Heritage Square, on Wednesday Nov. 24, for the hosting of the event.
Cruickshank made suggestions about the decision by the Gonsalves administration to send Commissioner of Police Keith Miller on leave during the lead up to the elections.
“…because they want an election commissioner to run things,” he said, adding, “But none of them stopping us from having meeting anywhere we want to”.
“We run things here,” Cruickshank said to cheers, echoing a statement by NDP President and Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace two weeks ago.
“You know, there are a lot of people in this country who believe that [the] NDP [is] quiet and cool and this and that. We are respectful and I am saying we have had tremendous corporation from the majority of the Police Force,” Cruickshank said.
But you need [a] Commissioner of Police who will stand up and say ‘Well look man, according to the Act, we have to be impartial, we have to be balanced, we have to give Jack his jacket. We have to give each party a chance’,” he added.
“Nobody — no prime minister, no minister of national security — should instruct or call any commissioner and tell them what to do,” he further said.
He said even if that were done, the top cop should use his “judgement and make decisions accordingly so that it does not appear that you are taking sides”.
Cruickshank said that the NDP understands that the ULP “buy out Heritage Square; they own Heritage Square until election done”.
The ruling party, Cruickshank said, has written to the authorities “and [said] we want it right through for the whole election — we own down there”.
“So, Ralph [bought] down there, Julian [bought] Heritage Square. It is their property,” he said of Gonsalves and Senator Julian Francis, General Secretary of the ULP.
“But hear nuh: tell dem don’t bother de NDP; tell them don’t humbug de NDP. When ah lion sleeping don’t bother him. Ralph, don’t behave like whey yo’ go down to Chateaubeliar an’ do to people. Yo’ understand?” he said in dialect, referring to a recent confrontation between Gonsalves and residents of the North Leeward town.
Cruickshank said that the behaviour of the ULP reminded him of a schoolboy, who, notwithstanding his ranting, is “weak”
“But my brothers and sisters, I advise you to be still, quiet, and cool. But we [will] have our celebration tomorrow. We will have it whether — they can’t stop it and we are gonna have it on top of Sion Hill.
“We didn’t really want to go back to Sion Hill at this time. We would [have] preferred to take you somewhere else but we will still have it,” Cruickshank said.
He further said that the government was trying to prevent the NDP from using other campaign venues such as the Calliaqua Playing Field and Victoria Park.
“They cannot stop us from voting on Election Day. And when the day comes on the 13th of December, we will show them in this country what we mean with this [index] finger. We will bring an end to all the harm and heartache that they are giving to us now politically, economically and otherwise and bring a change to this country once and for all,” Cruikshank said.
“My brothers and sisters, monkey say[s] ‘Cool breeze’. Just be patient, take it easy … prepare yourself for the battle,” he said, as he made suggestions about the political strategies of the ULP.
He further said that the ULP was trying to cook up reasons why NDP candidates shouldn’t contest the elections.
“But these people who were accused of rape can run; everybody else could run,” he said.
In February 2008, a 36-year-old female member of Gonsalves’ security detail said he raped her while she was on duty at his official residence.
The Director of Public Prosecutions officially discontinued any inquiry into the allegations without allowing the case to be heard before a court.
The cop later withdrew a civil suit, amidst rumours of an out-of-court settlement, even as Gonsalves denied the accusation.