Diaspora Progressives Condemn the Use of Excessive Force on Peaceful Protesters


On Sunday, August 8, we watched in horror as police officers in riot gear pointed guns at peaceful protesters. These “peace officers” shot rubber bullets and indiscriminately dispersed tear gas at women, men and children who peacefully gathered to exercise their right to free speech and assembly. Although constitutionally protected, these rights were trampled on by the Gaston Brown Administration. This event was preceded by threats from the Attorney General, and unfolded in a very strategic and dramatic way.

On a day that is traditionally reserved for peace, prayer, and reflection, Antigua and Barbuda erupted into a state of violence against its people who gathered peacefully. While we understand that law enforcement presence is needed to ensure the protection and safety of all at any gathering, these attacks were totally unprovoked and unwarranted. The only warning given was a silent one (via a white banner on the front of a truck). It is very clear that democratic principles and the rights of Antiguans and Barbudans are being unashamedly repressed by the very same people who swore an oath to uphold them!

Our Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and it requires that any action taken by the government during a period of public emergency must be reasonable, justifiable and measured against the situation at hand. However, the actions taken by the police this past Sunday against a peaceful crowd were unreasonable, unjustifiable, and barbaric.

The Diaspora Progressives vehemently condemn the violence unleashed by the state and the Gaston Brown Administration upon our fellow nationals, and we call for the immediate resignation of Commissioner Atley Rodney and Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin. We further demand that Governor-General Rodney Williams immediately repeal and revoke the current state of emergency, as its purpose is to clearly suppress the rights of the citizens and nationals of Antigua and Barbuda.

Antiguan and Barbudan patriots across the global diaspora with a shared vision for the development and advancement of our nation.

The Russian novelist and political prisoner Alexander Solzhenitsy once said “you only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power — he’s free again.” It is in that light that we call on the members of civil society, the Bar Association, the clergy and ecumenical associations, teachers, physicians, nurses, bankers, tradespeople, and members of trade unions to unreservedly condemn this act of violence and harassment that was unleashed on our brothers and sisters on Sunday, August 8, 2021. Stand up for freedom and against tyranny.

Although we do not necessarily share the viewpoints of the organizers of Sunday’s picket, we fiercely defend their right to speak out against what they perceive to be an encroachment on their freedom and have agency when it comes to their personal health. The Antigua and Barbuda Constitution guarantees citizens the right to assemble peacefully to petition the government. There have been similar actions across the Caribbean and other nations around the world from people imploring their respective governments to give them the right to choose whether they take the vaccine or not. However, there is no record of any other government using tear gas or other types of violence to disperse peaceful protest action.

We call on the Gaston Brown Administration to cease its repression of human rights, not only of those who have been tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets, but also of all the people of Antigua, and Barbuda. With so many of our residents and citizens experiencing severe economic and emotional hardships, we instead encourage the government to focus on the holistic needs of our people who have been living under a state of emergency for almost 18 months.

In the words of Colin Powell, “great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” We call for more dialogue and greater sensitivity of the suffering that our people continue to endure. This is a time to “dwell in love and unity.”

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    • Ok sir its against the law to leave your home after 11pm me as a police officer has the right to beat you and handcuff you. at the same time your not committing a crime whereas causing harm or injury to anyone. It was a peaceful protest excessive force was not necessary yall don’t get it, it doesn’t even look like they were trained enough to use the tear Gas, innocent ppl getting hurt.

    • Hmmmmmmm what law did they defy? Their request for a march was denied and they turned what should have been a march into a picket. No permission is required for a picket. I guess that is the misunderstanding that the police was operating under. With more knowledge on the part of the police the matter should have been handled differently. However, I guess they were operating on prearranged plans with the political directorate.

      • “Can we get a REAL LAWYER next time please” (as expressed by you know who on Observer Radio where you were being interviewed).

        You and Chaku Waku are in the same category!


  2. Great article. You missed one person that must resign as well.

    Mr. Gaston Browne! Resign from your position! Antigua needs healing and you’re not the one for the job. You’re too much of a polarizing figure. So the right thing for once in your life.

    Sir Molwyn Joseph has been a steady voice during this pandemic. He should be elevated to the leadership position.

  3. World dictator traitor tyrant liar HT Gaston Browne and his cesspool gang soon done.

    We were born free Antiguans and we will die free.

    We will bring Gaston and his feces infested cabinet all to justice.

    Up to now the killers, murderers, abductors, kidnappers and human traffickers (HT) still walking freely because govt members are involved with all this and now they want to take away our freedoms.

    That not happening. We taking back our country and bringing Gaston and his dogs to justice.

  4. These diaspora folks bring nothing to the development of Antigua and Barbuda. They are a bunch of people living in america that are either dodging from immigration or receiving government handouts. Dont mention the condition they live in.

    Often times they send begging Antiguans for money to help buy tickets to come home.

    • LOL @ begging for money to help buy tickets to come home. Some of them are living abroad illegally too and beg loding in people basement or in a little one-room shack.

  5. For persons commenting that obviously dont know they own rights:

    Constitution is 2. This Constitution is the supreme law of Antigua
    supreme law. and Barbuda and, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution,
    this Constitution shall prevail and the other law shall, to the
    extent of the inconsistency, be void.

    13. (1) Except with his own consent, no person shall pa::$:fof
    be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of peaceful assembly and I assembly and association, that is to say, his right peacefully association.
    to assembly freely and associate with other persons and in
    particular to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the promotion and protection of his interests.

    • EQUAL RIGHTS you are absolutely correct. The Constitution is the supreme law and any law inconsistent with the Constitution is null and void. However, the Constitution provides the circumstances where our fundamental rights can be abridged. One such circumstance is during a health pandemic such as is the case with covid 19.

      • How is it you all tend to spout so many violations but to date neither yourself (though you are a bush lawyer) and/or any of the other lawyers in the UPP clan have every try to bring a charge against the government?

        • JUST SAYING what law is the government breaking? In my case I have a claim before the he court to show that the Regulations were implemented incorrectly. For your information Molwyn Joseph had no authority to make any Regulations. He amended the Public Health Act in 2017 to replace the Governor General by himself so that he would get the authority to make Regulations, but that amendment was unlawful. That is my challenge before the court.

      • @Charles Tabor
        Is natural law not the supreme law, is every living thing not subject to natural law? That did not come up in law school?
        You mean they just over looked all that and you did not ask how come?

        Natural law not constitution get it right.

        • MELCHESIDEC there are principles of Natural Justice that are accepted by most judicial system. However, the Constitution of any country is the Supreme Law. Yes, the principles of Natural Justice are taught in law school.

  6. Political party supporters overseas can say what they want as one/a few person’s can create a document and classify it as a ‘Diaspora doc’. Nun ah unnu ah tap ovaseas an determine wha gwarn inna A & B. Some ah unnu tink becarz unnu lib inna one bigga country dan A & B unnu know wha bess fuh A & B, same as unnu want fuh lib ovaseas and vote during de election. Unnu cum dun and help dem no, mek de law enforcement lik some tear gas and rubba bullit inna aru backside. Staying behind the fence in the country you reside and chatting foolishness.

  7. You cannot claim to be protesting peacefully if you have already defied the orders of the police
    And look who they have “leading” them? Smh

    Prostest/Picket/March YES, but Respect for freewill and rule of law.

  8. The Diaspora Progressives vehemently condemn the violence unleashed by the state and the Gaston Brown Administration upon our fellow nationals, and we call for the immediate resignation of Commissioner Atley Rodney and Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin. We further demand that Governor-General Rodney Williams immediately repeal and revoke the current state of emergency, as its purpose is to clearly suppress the rights of the citizens and nationals of Antigua and Barbuda.”

    You people only surface when election time coming around. We want hear your voice all the time. Otherwise you are of no use to us.

      • Me na meet with nobody. I wish we had a portal like CA back in the so We could talk as we like without being blocked. So what if UPP met with them? UPP don’t have Antiguans in deh? Tear Gas and bullets was wrong. There was no Emergency and those were human beings and our friends and family. I will never join a political party. #UNBOSSED #UNBOUGHT

        • So in your mind, Was it wrong for the people to still hold the gathering last Sunday even though they did NOT receive permission from the COP to do so? Yes or No?
          Yes or No?
          Yes or No?
          Yes or No?

  9. Government house RAGGERTY, Hospital RAGGETY, Ministries, RAGGERTY, Work Places RAGGERTY, Mental Hospital RAGGERTY, AMBASSARORS RAGGERTY, Schools RAGGERTY, Water system RAGGERTY, electrical system and utilities RAGGERTY, Internet RAGGERTY, Social Security RAGGERTY, poor pensioners in line 5am in line waiting for what they done work for that’s RAGGERTY playground for our children RAGGERTY, Tender board RAGGERTY, development bank RAGGERTY, Recreation Grounds RAGGERTY, Everything in Cartoon town RAGGERTY- Shoot tear gas pan you? What you got to see to convince they don’t care about us? PS there is no wheelchair ramp in the parking lot. All I got to say looks like more tear gas and rubber bullets to come. You can add a few real bullets GOOD NEWS: Wherever a people are opressed and down trodden. THEY WILL RISE UP with a vengeance that will shake the world and NO power or authority can halt a peoples quest for freedom and justice

  10. It is absolutely amazing that for the sake of towing party lines, people would agree that a government is right to gas its own citizens. There were children in that crowd and the police gassed them as if they were dogs. This is why I know the labour party is a cult. Its followers will support just about anything they are told to.

  11. Watched a clip where the main organizer was shouting for the country to be set on fire and the police stoned, I gather such should be ignored? Before the tear gas the police told them to disperse yet they ignored and dared the police to take action. One wonders if I can go elsewhere and try such? Let me organize a group and block off a road, without permission and try what the protesters tried, and see if similar actions won’t be taken. Just a few days a few protesters in France faced tear gas for similar actions. Recently in Florida, July this year, the police labelled a protest where the road(s) were blocked illegal. I gather for some A&B is a place where laws don’t matter hence anything goes. Well not my country, I not swearing allegiance to any other, my treasures(most) are buried in ANU.

  12. If any of you who choose to vilify your brother’s and sisters, family and friends who live in the diaspora , who you depend on to visit the country they were born in or those who help their families and friends who are suffering, you are plain SELFISH & BADMINDED. Our country cannot survive without our remittances , Antigua has nothing to export and when you hear of the large amount of food barrels shipped, they were not sent by a foreigner.
    So tell me who is Ron Saunders to Antigua and Barbuda, and why are all of you so quiet when he speaks from Washington DC on behalf of you who choose to say vicious things about Antiguans and Barbudans overseas. Pick the beam out of your own eyes, there are over 40, 000 Antiguans who rely on us in the diaspora. No matter how we may live in the US , we bond together to help the economy of Antigua at all times , not in just times of disaster. Look into the sky and imagine an Antigua and Barbuda, destroyed by a natural disaster with no help from outside Caricom.

    • Thank you friend I am one of those who support my country to include cloth, food ad various supplies. We pay for medical expenses and we house Antiguan we don’t even know because they are one of us. In 2015 the Antigua & Barbuda Association of South Florida took our money with the promise for it to be returned a promised made by a minister and a CG. We are still waiting for our money back. The behavior is nothing new. They block us from working in Antigua even if you volunteer. They fear we expose the ineptness when all we want to do is help. notice very little born Antiguans in in many important position on our island. I theorize if we did a survey we would be surprise at the numbers. For most countries all nationals get to vote no matter where the live. They would fight you for that right but they will take or remittances. You go homes and can’t even take a shower. I dam nearly died in MSJMC parking lot. I sense a new day on the way. #UNBOUGHT

      • You bragging about “supporting” your country and in the same breath calling it a “Cartoon Country”???

        Don’t be one of those people who suddenly turn snobby and condescending thinking Antigua and Barbuda is beneath you because you live under Biden’s rule. Amazes me how some people act as tho ‘meriKKKa name heaven.

      • Guy your statement is false. Its the norm for the head of practically all (at least 80%) of government departments or agencies to be born Antiguan.
        1. Social security (Managing director is a born Antiguan, so also its board chairman),
        2. Immigration department, the lady who is the chief there it is a born Antiguan
        3. the port (the chairman of the board is a born Antiguan and its general manager has more right to be called Antiguan than you. He has lived in ANU ever since his family brought him here as a child after the ravages of hurricane David),
        4. ONDCP (its managing director is Antiguan), CIP (its CEO and chairman of the board is Antiguan),
        5. Financial Services Reg auth(CEO is a born Antiguan, so also its board chairman),
        6. ADOMS (its managing director is a born Antiguian),
        7. APUA( Gen manager born Antiguan, board chairman is a born Antiguan)
        8. Antigua Defense force (its head is a born Antiguan),
        9. Medical Benefit Scheme (head born Antgiguan so also board chairman)
        10. Tourism Authority (CEO is a born Antiguan)
        11. Board of education (Exec sec and board chairman antiguan born)
        12. State Insurance corp (GM and board chairman are born antiguans)

        In essence for the one or two areas where a non national (they have all practically become citizens) heads a body, I can provide at least 4 bodies headed by born Antiguans. Your claim shows your need to live a fantasy

    I hope you listened to POINTE FM last evening and heard how Mr. POMPEY explained the LAW in a NON PARTISAN way.Tabor I hope you learn something. Tabor you are a HYPOCRITE.

  14. ERIC (THE RED) unfortunately I did not hear my good friend Mr. Pompey last night. However, I heard him on the Voice of the People on Monday and I disagree (and I don’t often disagree with him) with him when he said that the protest was unlawful. They applied for permission to march and it was denied. They then decided to go ahead with a picket. You do not need permission for a picket. I am therefore at a loss as to what my friend Mr. Pompey was describing as unlawful.

  15. Public order act:

    (2) Nothing in this Part shall operate or be construed
    as operating to penalise or prevent-
    (a) any lawful picketing carried on outside any
    official premises; or
    (b) any other lawful act done,
    by or on behalf of a trade union in contemplation or in
    furtherance of a trade dispute.

    So Boss we know there are not a trade union, you wish to label the VC Board Bust official premises? The meaning has always been a official government building (eg office of the PM). I know VC Bird Bust is not listed in the second schedule. You need to stop support wrong. This was clearly not a legal picket. The main organizer is on video instigating a riot (calling for fires to be set and police stoned)

    (1) Government House.
    (2) Parliament Building.
    (3) The Supreme Court.
    (4) Administration Building, High Street.
    (5) Offices of all Ministers of Government.
    (6) The Treasury, High Street.
    (7) Magistrates’ Courts.
    (8) The Holberton Hospital.
    (9) Coolidge Airport.
    (10) The Deep Water Harbour.

    • TENMAN your comment is so erroneous and ridiculous I should not bother to respond. Some one will teach you the various methods of Statutory Interpretation. Boss from your ridiculous interpretation of the Public Order Act only Trade Unions are allowed to picket. The history of picketing is derived from industrial relations between employers and employees, however boss the law has evolved and anyone can mount a picket. A picket is a public demonstration by someone of their support or disapproval of an issue. You do not have to be a trade union.

      • Watch you again showing your lack proper comprehension skills. Nowhere did I state only trade unions can picket. The focus was on where can be picketed by entities not a trade union.


    • You are wrong on all counts. I am still in SLU, having a working vacation. Won’t be back for some weeks. In the meantime, you try not to strain your mouth being the opposition mouth piece. Pity your conscience don’t bother you with the lies you tell

  17. And TENMAN your skills about statutory interpretation is totally absent. If you think that a court would say that you can only picket outside official premises you are a bigger fool than I previously thought. All the court would ask is if such a position is reasonably justified in a democratic society. The answer to that question would be a resounding NO.

    • Again, your comprehension problem showing. Guy you really took law exams or you paid someone? The public order act, cannot impact any such activities (ie does not apply) described in (a) and (b). All other activities must be inline with the act

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