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Clashes between protesters, cops outside Parliament as senators begin debate over controversial Constitution (Amendment) Bill

Published: 
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
A protester against the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 waves a flag and chants anti-government slogans outside Parliament, Tower D, Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, on August 26, 2014. Photo: Gerard Best

Verbal clashes between police and opposers of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill got heated this morning after police moved the protesters away from the Wrightson Road Waterfront Complex to a nearby barricaded area near Breakfast Shed.

Senators will debate the controversial bill at 1.30pm at Tower D, Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. Up to about one hour before the start of the debate, the scene outside Parliament was set, with protesters from both sides standing very close to each other. Those against the Bill were a flag-waving bunch, chanting lyrics loudly, while the pro-government supporters were a more sober-faced group.

But shortly before noon, the scene turned confrontational when police ordered the protesters to move to a barricaded area. Protesters were unwilling to move, and repeated chants of “Kamla must go” while defying officers by staying on the spot.

One elderly woman, who was pushed forward as police officers tried to guide the group toward the barricaded area, cried out and told officers not to touch her. Protesters said they were being treated unfairly and were confused as to why they were being told to move.

Police said they had given orders from their senior officers.

Parliament police, officers from the Port-of-Spain division and Guard and Emergency branch were present.

When protesters finally relented and moved toward the barricaded area, the verbal clashes between both sides were immediate. One woman wearing a yellow shirt got into a confrontation with another, wearing red. Tensions, which were already high, seemed to be escalating as police continued to monitor the crowd.