Political activist Colin “Hitman” Graham, who was arrested and slapped with five charges on Friday, says police targeted him after he spoke out against the government on radio Thursday night.
Graham, however, said in a statement on Tuesday that he is not “the enemy”.
“It is evident that I was targeted by the police after my plea the night before during a radio discussion for people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to become more vigilant and determined to stand up to this creeping dictatorship,” Graham said in a statement on Tuesday.
Graham was arrested in Arnos Vale Friday morning on the sidelines of a protest of the Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party administration.
He said he was charged with four traffic offences and one criminal charge around 4 p.m. Friday, but he was not released from police custody — even after securing bail — until around 10 p.m.
“My detention is part of a systematic attempt by the government to seek to intimidate its perceived ‘enemies’ and to try to silence any potential voice of dissent,” said Graham, a former ULP supporter who has joined the ranks of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
“What they don’t understand is that I am not their enemy. I am simply a Vincentian who wants better for my country. One who has grown tired of standing on the sidelines and watching the moral decay of our country, the growing divide amongst our people and the hopelessness of our youth,” he said.
Graham said that rather than addressing the issues and “offer our people real hope”, the government has chosen “to seek to silence our voices through fear and intimidation.
“The Ralph Gonsalves administration continues to use a small faction in the police force as the administration’s own element of harassment and repression,” he said.
“Vincentian people must take note, and so too should the rest of the world. Our democracy is at risk!
“This current challenge that we face must be met with determination and unity; and in the words of one great Caribbean politician, ‘we must move forward on our feet, and not our knees’,” Graham said.
He also quoted Nelson Mandela, saying:”For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Graham thanked the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines “for their show of support and solidarity” following his arrest
“Your expressions have further convinced me that the yearning for decency in governance, respect and economic empowerment runs deep. It has strengthened my resolve to continue being a voice that seeks to echo the dreams and aspirations of our people,” he said.