Four opposition activists have been denied station bail and will be kept in police lock-up until Friday, when they will appear before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on charges that they held an illegal public meeting outside Parliament.
Luzette King, a retired nurse, her niece Adriana King, a 42-year-old teacher on suspension from the classroom, Robert “Patches” Knights-King, a calypsonian and John Mofford were arrested outside the Parliament building, in Kingstown, earlier today (Thursday), police have confirmed to iWitness News.
Lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News Thursday night that she is acting for the quartet, who has each been charged that they failed to comply with the instructions of Roycel Davis, Corporal of Police 471, when instructed to disperse from “an unlawfully held public meeting which was held within 200 yards of the Court House building when the House of Assembly was sitting”, contrary to Section 10(3)(a) of the Public Order Act.
Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News that initially, a fifth person, a woman, was also arrested but she was released without charge.
The lawyer noted that her clients were charged under the Public Order Act and accused of failing to disperse from a public meeting.
“I don’t know what public meeting they were having,” Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News.
“And what is worse, on a petty thing like this, they have asked to keep them there overnight,” she said, adding that her clients have been denied station bail and will remain in custody overnight.
The lawyer said she has been unsuccessful in her attempts to reach Commissioner of Police Colin John on a number at which she had contacted him in the past.
She said that Luzette and Adriana have both asked to go to the hospital, saying that they are not feeling well.
“They were at the courthouse, apparently holding up placards. They were not holding a public meeting. They were there as is the right of every Vincentian,” the lawyer said, adding, “this annoyed someone”, triggering the arrest.
Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News that she had seen a video of someone assaulting Luzette.
“She asked what she was being arrested for and she was thrown in a vehicle,” the lawyer said, adding that after the arrest, her client complained of feeling pain.
“As I said, I don’t see the reason except it is vindictiveness to keep them overnight. Once they have charged them, they could give them bail or have someone sign bail for them,” she said.
Bacchus-Baptiste told iWitness News the arrest of the activists was a “misuse of the resources of the state”.
The charge against Adrianna comes even as she has been suspended from the classroom pending the outcome of a charge that on Aug. 5, 2021, in Kingstown, she obstructed Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves while he was going to Parliament, the sixth charge brought against her as a result of her alleged involvement in protests in Kingstown in July and August 2021.
Further, Adriana, Knights-King and Mofford were among eight people against whom Director of Public Prosecution Sejilla Mc Dowall, in December 2021, withdrew two counts of being concerned in organising a public procession without notifying the Commissioner of Police at least 24 hours before the procession and two counts of knowingly taking part in a public procession/meeting in contravention of Section 5(2) of the Public Order Act, offences allegedly committed earlier in 2021.
Luzette has been prosecuted multiple times in connection with her activism.