Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Acting CoP on unions’ protest: They all faced charges
Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams says members of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) were illegally conducting a demonstration outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday and as it was against the law all the protesters could have been arrested. Members of the JTUM wore black clothing, covered their faces with handkerchiefs and carried big black sticks with flags during the demonstration. President general of the OWTU Ancel Roget was detained but later was released from police custody. Speaking yesterday, after he met with the children at the Beetham Police Youth Club, Beetham Gardens, Williams reiterated the action was illegal.
He added: “Does that make it legal? Does that make it right? Once something is wrong, it is wrong. Once something is illegal it is illegal. “It is clear and I am hoping the media could ask union leaders is what you did legal? I cannot account for Police Service actions last year and I am saying the law is there in black and white. It was wrong. It was a criminal offence.” He said DCP Mervyn Richardson, who detained Roget, could have laid charges against Roget but chose not to. “Richardson, exercising some level of discretion, tried to engage the union leader by sharing with him what was wrong on the matter. He could have arrested him and charged him and charged them. If it wrong, it wrong," he added.
Williams gave an example of a thief who robs a house and has never been caught. The second time, the owner makes a report and the thief is caught by the police.“What will you say? ‘I did it already and never got caught?’ It is still wrong and wrong is wrong,” he said. Williams said the group was not given permission to protest and under the Public Holidays and Festival Act any person in disguise is committing an offence. He also said the Police Service Act states the police have a right to keep order outside all courts. “And that is High Court, isn’t it?” he asked.
In relation to his visit at the youth club, Williams said: “Today is changing the dynamics of young people. It is really about having a lasting, positive impression on young minds. “What we are about in the Police Service today is, we are seeking to change the young people’s direction and teenagers gunning down each other with no implications of that. Life is not precious to them.”
Williams said they would work to help shape and influence the children to be productive citizens. He added: “We are trying to use this mechanism across T&T to change the direction of our young people. I hope they are not gunmen and dealing with drugs. “The sky is the limit. We are trying to expose them to opportunity with core values, integrity, discipline, respect that becomes part of their DNA.”
He said there were 17 youth clubs across the country and praised former Insp Sheila Prince for her dedication and work at the Beetham club. The children sang and played musical instruments as part of the short programme. Prince said there was hope for the children but funds were a problem. Assistant Commissioner Earl Gonzales and ASP Joanne Archie also attended.
The Public Holidays and Festivals Act section 5 states: Any person who appears in public masked or otherwise disguised, except during a public festival at which he is authorised to do so by regulations under sub-section (2), is liable to a fine of $1,000 and to imprisonment for six months.
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