KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Police here will pull the plug on any Carnival event where violence breaks out, police spokesperson ASP Jonathan Nichols said Tuesday, citing a directive from the Commissioner of Police.
Nichols made an unscheduled appearance at a Carnival Development Corporation’s (CDC) media briefing Tuesday morning where he made the announcement.
“This morning, my presence here mainly is to send a word of warning to the Vincentians public. As the [CDC] Chairman [Dennis Ambrose] mentioned, we had a couple [of] incidents over the weekend that were very troubling to the police and caused concerns,” he said.
Reports reaching I-Witness News indicate that one person was killed when a fracas broke out a rural Carnival event.
“Now, the police force, we are very cognisant of our role [in] securing Vincy Mas, whether in the rural areas or in the capital, Kingstown,” Nichols said.
“We also are aware that while we have to secure and protect and ensure that the events go well, we have to look out for the safety of persons who are not Carnival inclined and other members of the general public,” he further stated.
“Over the weekend, we had to stop one of the functions that was scheduled because of some violence earlier in the day and … the message is that we want people to enjoy Vincy Mas, we want you to enjoy yourself, we want you to enjoy the shows but there are some persons, they are just geared toward causing trouble,” Nichols said.
“You have to police those persons. You have to help us police the Carnival and the activities and any show that is marred by violence, that show will be cancelled. That’s the word from the Commissioner’s Office; we are taking a stance on that. We want you to enjoy yourself but leave the violence out,” he further stated.
Nichols said that this country has become known for having violence-free Carnivals. Other Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, have adopted some of the strategies used here, including the No-Bottle Policy, Nichols said.
He added that the police chief in Port-of-Spain has visited this country during Carnival to observe the policing strategies employed here.
“Again, I want to encourage the public to have fun and respect the authorities. You can have fun without violence. You can have fun without getting into trouble,” he said.
Nichols urged persons to pay attention to friends who might be consuming too much alcohol.
“If you are in a group and you realise there is an individual or two who may be consuming a little too much alcohol and becoming too aggressive, you have to learn to speak to that individual and assist them in staying in control. When that happens, we know that we will have no incidence and a peaceful Carnival.”
He further encouraged residents of this country to be security conscious generally. He said that when leaving their homes, people should ensure that the premises are properly secured and well lit and that minors are left in the care of responsible people.
Vehicles, Nichols said, should be parked in well-lit areas and he also encouraged Carnival-goers to respect the No-Bottle Policy, which mandates that all drinks should be served in disposable cups rather than the glass bottles in which they are packaged.
Glass bottles are often used as projectiles when fights break out at Carnival and other events, sometimes inflicting injuries on innocent bystanders.
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie, speaking at the same media briefing, said:
“We have to ensure that we don’t have the belief that it’s just the police that is responsible for having a safe Vincy Mas. The responsibility lies with every single individual to do their part to ensure that our Carnival remains as the safest Carnival in the Caribbean.
“So, let us be reminded of that responsibility and ensure that we enforce the No-Bottle Policy, that we work along with the police to safeguard all of our citizens and the visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He noted that this country has this year received several travel awards and added that Vincy Mas contributed to the recognition.
“So therefore, Carnival is going to be central to the visit that would be done in 2012 by a lot of persons coming into St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” McKie said.
Vincy Mas 2012 begins in earnest on Friday with the Miss SVG Pageant.