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  • Writer's pictureClara

Antigua Police use teargas to disperse vaccine protest

9 August 2021

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The police in Antigua and Barbuda on Sunday used teargas to break up a demonstration by people who were protesting against a decision made by the government to move towards the vaccination of frontline workers in an effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the group known as Freedom Fighters for Antigua and Barbuda, claim that a letter was written to the Commissioner of Police Attlee Rodney, seeking permission – as required under the law, to march on Sunday.

The group noted that a response was received on Friday, but only after a member of the organisation called the commissioner’s office.

“It is apparent that his late response was a calculated and deliberate act by the Police Commissioner since he knew that his decision can be appealed to the Minister responsible for the Police and even reviewed by the High Court of Justice.”

“The denial for the permit at this late hour made it all but impossible to peruse the appeal process since the March was scheduled for August 8, 2021,” the statement added.

In the aftermath of the protest, the police said one person was detained.

Meanwhile political commentator, Arvel Grant, in an article published online by Antigua Newsroom, warned about the emerging trend in the Caribbean where opposition parties and anti-vaxxers are staging demonstrations urging people against taking the vaccine.

According to Grant – politicians, union leaders and media activists, should use the attack on Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines as a harsh reminder that, “they have the right to lawful speech, not freedom to inspire criminal violence. Indeed, some may well argue that certain leaders of the Anti-vaccination campaign, should examine the palm of their hands, for blood stains from this murderous attempt, to assassinate the dean of Caribbean Prime Ministers.”

“And why was this savage attack performed against the life of Prime Minister Gonsalves? Perhaps, because he is leading the effort to have (at least) frontline workers in his country, vaccinated against the COVID virus, a pandemic condition which is killing millions of people around the World including, in St Vincent, The Grenadines and the rest of the Caribbean.”

He added that many of those who are leading or inspiring the anti-vaccination campaign, may be fully vaccinated, and protected against serious illness and death from COVID or its family of diseases.

Grant also called on Caribbean leaders to “double-down on efforts to save our civilization from this dangerous and deadly COVID virus.”

Meanwhile, a 56-year-old woman pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge of wounding Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves during a protest last Thursday that had been organised by the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) and two public sector trade unions.

She will return to court on September 15.

The woman, Annamay Lewis was granted EC$3,000 bail with one surety, when she appeared at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.

She is being represented by a two member defence team including attorney Kay Bacchus- Baptiste, who last week said that he client had been pressured into confessing that she threw the object that injured the head of government.

The daughter of the accused and other family members emotionally proclaimed her innocence outside the court room.

Gonsalves suffered a concussion when he was struck in the head by an object outside Parliament on Thursday during the protest against a move by his government to have front line workers vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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