Businessman Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel is expected to appear in court on Wednesday, having been arrested on Monday, and four charges brought against him, including obstruction of the free flow of traffic and protesting without permission.
It is the second time that the businessman is being arrested in just under a year for demonstrating in Kingstown.
Samuel told I-Witness News on Tuesday that he was arrested “for protesting outside of the AG’s office.”
He said he was arrested outside the entrance to the parking lot at the back of her office.
“I will not want to go in to detail at this time for I will be in court tomorrow and I want to talk to my lawyer first,” he further told I-Witness News.
Reports are that Samuel went to the office of Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan, demanding to see her. He reportedly blocked the passage way and the police were called in. I-Witness News understands that Samuel staged some sort of demonstration outside the office building.
Samuel has staged demonstrations at various venues in St. Vincent where high-level government officials have had speaking engagements.
He protested at the opening ceremony of the regional reparations conference in Kingstown last September, and at the Independence Parade last October. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves spoke at both events.
Samuel has been lobbying the Gonsalves government since 2011 in an attempt to have his license to mine aggregate at lands he owns in Rabacca reinstated.
The government said the licence was suspended because of environmental impact, and Samuel claims that the suspension has resulted in the closure of his multi-million dollar block-making business.
He is yet to receive word on a new licence almost one year after he re-applied, as the government asked.
Related: Failure to reinstate Bigger Biggs’ mining licence is ‘a grave injustice’
The arrest comes just over a week after the Catholic Church broke its silence on the situation surrounding Samuel’s business and other social issues.
In a statement on Sept. 7, the Clergy Diocese of Kingstown said it wish “to share our deep concern on certain matters affecting our Church and our Society”.
“We lament the growing disrespect for the human person, the disregard for the environment and the increasing lawlessness, crime and violence in our nation. Social concerns such as those teachers who are still waiting to be reinstated, the unresolved ‘Bigger Biggs’ situation and a sense of hopelessness and fear amongst our people continue to disturb us.”
Three teachers who ran for the opposition New Democratic Party in the 2010 general elections were not rehired after they lost.
“Of great concern to us is the fact that people tend to put party loyalty before the truth of the Gospel. We also remain deeply troubled by the resulting divisions within our Church communities and between people of different religious persuasions all of which lead to fragmentation within our nation. These divisions are manifestations of our inability to recognize and to accept Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14: 6). Are we contributing to a society where peace and justice is no longer our daily experience?” the church said.
Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Family, Gender Affairs, Persons with Disabilities and Youth, Frederick Stephenson in a post on Facebook around 10 p.m. Monday, said:
“Who remember when there was no bridge across the Rabacca River? What use to happen? How many lives were lost? How many vehicles got damaged and how many were washed away and never to be found? Is the NDP gonna allow Bigger Bigs to return the Rabacca River to what it used to be like in the days of the 90’s? I hope Vincentians are looking, hearing, listening and learning.”
The Gonsalves government built a bridge across the river, alleviating many of the travel woes in that area.
At the time of publishing this article, Stephenson was yet to respond to a question regarding how Samuel could return the river to what it used to be in the 90s.
On Sept. 19, 2013, Samuel was arrested while protesting peacefully outside the Parliament building in Kingstown.
He told I-Witness News then that the arresting officer said he was picketing on the wrong side of the road, and that he was also arrested for his safekeeping.
Samuel said that he was kept for about 20 minutes, then Commissioner of Police Michael Charles, who was informed of the development, ordered that he be released, and advised him to picket on the side of the road across from the Parliament building.
(See below video of Samuel speaking about his arrest in September 2013)
I don’t get this. If the government has acted illegally in withholding Mr. Samuel’s license, then why not seek legal redress in the courts? Is that not what aggrieved persons should do? If, as has been said, numerous of his workers are out of jobs due to the stoppage of his business, surely this is a factor that the courts would give consideration to in deciding whether government’s actions were illegal or unfair. By adopting this posture in such a public way isn’t he sort of forcing the government to adopt the opposite posture? Mind you I’m no government cheerleader but this whole situation just seems rather odd. Am I missing something ere?
Sad state of affairs. Seems like Biggger was the subject of a witch hunt. I am sure that there are other areas in St. Vincent where Biggs could extract aggregates. Can’t the PM sit down and dialogue with Biggs as to what other options are there? Why tell him to reapply for his license then ignore him when he does? This reeks of personal revenge.
Don’t worry Bigger, a few more months and this too shall pass…
You have people thieving down the place not an arrest much less jail….what a country!
Biggs is a personal friend of mine and I wish him well.
There are also others on the opposition that are close friends of mine and have expressed their concerns and I can see some of their points.
After careful consideration of the facts (that I am aware of) I can see no real reasons not to allow Biggs to resume his business. He will need to make a few changes, however, from what I know this can be done.
Those involved just need to step back, take a breath and look at the bigger picture. This was and can be a profitable business that provided job opportunities and contributed taxes.
There are legitimate concerns but nothing beyond the wit of man.
There is another way.
How many murders and rapes have been committed for the year so far? And how many suspects have been detained and brought to trial for these crimes? Obviously, these are not the sort of crimes that are of concern to PM Gonsalves and some lazy bunch of rum drinkers in the police force. Our taxpayers monies and the court’s time are wasted on politically motivated trumped-up charges. But the Minister of National Security can’t be bothered about hard core criminal activities- like corruption, murders, rapes, incest, drug trafficking, thievery in the public service and in our consulates. He is going after a man who simply wants to exercise his democratic and constitutional right to protest against victimization and bad-mindedness against him. WHAT A COUNTRY AND A PARTY LED BY RALPH GONSALVES!!!!! Lord help us!!!!
Comments above are made due to the fact that only one side of the story is given. As ever I witness news seems to report only one side. Please, as a journalist get ALL the facts prior to commenting on a story. Why is it, that I witness News has not published the letter from the PM of SVG to the Catholic Bishop pertaining to Bigger Bigs’ and these teachers? The facts are outlined in the PM’s letter. It was made available to all journalists in SVG. I listened very attentively to the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
It would appear that Mr Bigs seems to believe that his name says it all; he would only speak to the Prime Minister of the Country or perhaps the Attorney General. What’s his next move? Will he show up next on the steps at Buckingham Palace and demand to see Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state?
I normally just shake my head when I read ‘half baked’ articles and responses to such articles. However, at my age (three scores and ten) I am really getting pi….off with journalists who report one side of a story and have readers believe that their version is the gospel truth. Even Priests and Bishops it seems are now utilising this way of thinking. Am I behind the times? No way, honesty (to your readers) never gets old.
In your own words, Mr Chance, you declare that “you are a career journalist and adhere to the highest standard of journalism.” Really? What became of the Kenton Chance whose articles I enjoyed reading in the Vincentian Newspaper, prior to his going abroad to study; Taiwan was it?
Now Mr Chance, it may take two to Tango, but to be flawless in the dance each dancer must first learn the proper steps; just keep in mind that these steps are very intricate; but master them and both dancers become as one . Perfection -This to me would be the highest standard. Now, since there are two sides to a story, when only one side is put forward how can the highest standard in journalism be attained?
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