ST. VINCENT: Election posters belonging to the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) were removed from the southern perimeter walls of the Victoria Park last weekend because that section of the fencing is for paid advertisements, the National Lotteries Authority has said, according to Searchlight newspaper.
The NLA manages the multi-purpose facility in Kingstown and its chairman, Murray Bullock, told Searchlight “All of that are advertising areas. There is not a single poster for any political party placed there.”
NDP president and Leader of the Opposition and other party supporters has raised concerns last Saturday, Nov. 27, as officers of the Special Services Unit stood guard as the posters were being removed at the height of the campaign election for the Dec. 13 elections.
Murray said police were called in after park workers “were threatened by some hooligans standing out there” earlier on Saturday.
Eustace, his lawyer Kay Bacchus Brown, Levi Adolphus Cummings, who said he witnessed the removal of the posters, appeared on Nice Radio Saturday afternoon, hours after the posters were torn down.
Eustace said the NDP was considering “what legal action we can take” even as he said that Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, knew of the decision to remove the posters.
“…when things like this go on, it cannot be without his knowledge. In any case, we are bringing it to his knowledge now — if he doesn’t have it before — and I want to see what he is going to do about it,” Eustace said.
“The reality is he is responsible and he should come out and make the requisite statements to ensure that that kind of thing does not happen,” he added.
Eustace said Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) “are running scared about the NDP winning the elections”.
“They will do anything to try to get power again in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This time, they will not get it,” he said.
“…all these efforts that are being made have only one design: to find a way to retain power in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Eustace said that his party would “…continue to be vigilant and bring to the public’s attention any efforts aimed at undermining our party and also the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as we move forward in this election period”.
Cummings, who spoke alongside Eustace, said police had threatened him when he took photographs of the posters being torn down.
“They (police officer) grabbed my phone; they pulled it away…. He said, ‘You know I can lock you up? I have handcuffs here. I can carry you and beat you’,” said of his encounter with the cops.
“He (police officer) said, ‘For your best interest, just get off the sidewalk.’ So I start[ed] walking,” Cummings further said.
Lawyer Kay Bacchus-Brown said the actions of the police in relation to supervising the removal of the posters “can lead to disorderly conduct”, adding, “That is why it is important that we ask people to exercise restraint and calm.”
“Actually, there is still freedom of expression in St. Vincent and the Grenadines so there is no laws, as far as I know, against putting up your posters except you are defacing people’s property or persons ask you to take them down. And if persons do not want posters on their private property, for example, there is a way to do it. You ask persons to take it down. But when the state… [is] using the police to enforce this type of behaviour, it can encourage violence,” the lawyer said.