Two prominent members of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) have been charged with public order offences over protests in Kingstown in July and August.
On Wednesday, police arrested the party’s general secretary, Tyrone James, a retired Coast Guard commander, as well as Colin Graham, an NDP spokesperson and slapped them with four charges each.
The men’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, told iWitness News that they were each charged that on July 29, at Kingstown, they did organise or were concerned with organising a public procession, without notifying the Commissioner of Police at least 24 hours prior.
Another count of the same charge was brought against the duo, allegedly committed in Kingstown on Aug. 5.
The two were also each charged that on the same dates — July 29 and Aug. 5 — in Kingstown, they did knowingly take part in a public procession or meeting, in contravention of the Section 5(1) and Section 5(2) of the Public Order Act.
They were each granted station bail and ordered to appear before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Thursday to answer the charges.
The charges against James and Graham are the same as those brought against Adriana King, a teacher, and Kenson King, a prison officer, last month.
In a Facebook post at 6:23 p.m., on Wednesday, Graham told his social media network that all was well with him.
“For all who was trying to reach me, I was arrested around 2 pm today and taken to Central Police station, I was questioned by members of the CID and had 4 (four) charges laid against me of which I have to appear in court tomorrow morning to answer. … I am out on bail and all is well!! Stay Strong My People!!!” Graham said.
Meanwhile, in a video published to the Facebook page of Bryan Alexander, an NDP activist, at 5:46 p.m., James said that he was on the way to the police station, having received calls from his office and home “that heavily armed Black Squad police officers had come to look for me.
“They came to the NDP headquarters. I wasn’t there. And they went to my home. I wasn’t there also. But the thing is, these heavily armed police officers, my children were very scared. One of my kids was asking me if the police was going to shoot me, given the amounts and guns that she saw — assault rifles.”
James said that he had spoken to his lawyer who contacted the commissioner, who said that police wanted to interview James.
“But, after some time, he then told her they wanted to arrest me. So I am on my way now to the police station to see what they are arresting me for…” James said.
The arrest and charges come as protests are being planned for outside Parliament in Kingstown on Sept. 9, over the government’s vaccination policy as well as the national issues.
“… I am asking Vincentians to come out in your numbers, stop this nonsense that is going on in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They are trying to pick us off, cherry pick us and move us away to prevent things from happening in this country. We must stand up to this regime. We must stand up. Vincentians, if you want to protect your democracy, come out on the 9th and stand up,” James said.