Massiah condemns excessive use of force by police in Antigua and Barbuda


The leader of the Democratic National Alliance tonight became the first leader of the political party to condemn the gassing of peaceful protesters.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) denounces in the strongest terms the excessive use of force and the unprovoked responses by law enforcement officers that was unleashed on citizens and residents who gathered peacefully at the public market hours ago.

All evidence points to citizens and residents who gathered to air their grievances and to demonstrate their opposition to the government’s responses to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the move to mandate vaccines for certain workers and the denial of civil liberties for the unvaccinated population.

Further, the protestors voiced their serious opposition to the government’s plan to vaccinate children.

In a callous and vain display of state power, the brutal and oppressive crack down on peaceful protestors at the hands of officers in riot gear, was irresponsible and was executed indiscriminately, without care, compassion or concern for the protestors, who included children, on-lookers, bus operators, passersby and persons who reside in the area and who were in their homes.

The police have a fundamental duty to protect and serve the citizenry and not to abuse the authority which they possess. Further, protests and civil disobedience are hallmarks of a mature democracy. We have failed that test miserably! What is concerning is the fact that all across the world persons continue to protest against their governments in response to policies regarding the COVID-19 vaccines and the curtailing of civil liberties. Over the past few days, we have seen protests taking place in Barbados, Guadeloupe, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Their protesters have been more vocal and strident in their actions than those in Antigua and Barbuda. Yet, we have not witnessed any police brutality in those islands. Contrarily most governments have heralded these peaceful protests as a progressive brand of democracy.

Persons who were present at the protest today were seemingly caught unawares by the show of force and all expressed shock, disbelief and anger at the actions of the police who, they say, were in no way threatened by the crowd which had gathered at the Sir. VC Bird bust and who chanted, “keep it clean, no vaccine…”

In expressing alarm and anger at the police’s action, political leader of the DNA, Joanne Massiah, asked, “who could have authorized such an action against the peaceful protesters? Were the uses of tear gas, rubber bullets and barricades an appropriate response to a peaceful gathering? I say emphatically no! I say not in Antigua and Barbuda! Why did the authorities so callously and wantonly disregarded the constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms of the people guaranteed by the Constitution of our country? Yes, a state of emergency is in effect; however, this does not mean that all of our rights are suspended! There are many questions to be answered and we demand that the Commissioner of Police and the acting Prime Minister come to the public immediately to explain the reason for this type of brutality exacted on our people.”

Further, the DNA notes the irony that the unfortunate events unfolded in front of the bust of the Father of the Nation who is credited and largely revered as having fought to secure the freedoms of the masses against the myriad of injustices exacted by the plantocrats who ruled our country with impunity! A trade unionist himself, many of his actions on behalf of workers also involved protests and acts of civil disobedience. Surely, Sir VC Bird must be rolling in his grave.

The DNA calls upon the people of Antigua and Barbuda to stand up against this autocratic regime which has shown nothing but contempt for our lives and livelihoods. We call upon civil society organizations, the churches, the unions, non-governmental organizations, citizens in the Diaspora, the international community to condemn the actions of the police and those who sanctioned them.

Malaka Parker, DNA Chairperson, opined, “let us be ever mindful that history will judge societies and governments – and their institutions – not by how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the concerns of the masses! The Police’s actions in using rubber bullets and tear gas purportedly to disperse the crowd without due notice, warning or engagement are irresponsible in every regard! There were persons in the vicinity who were not protesting and the disregard shown to every person in the vicinity highlights the fledgling state of our democracy and is a crescendo in this growing impasse over COVID_19 vaccines. In my view, this has only inflamed the people and it is tantamount to throwing gasoline on the fire! The government’s missteps are too many.”

The DNA appreciates the psychological, financial and social violence with which our people have contended for well over eighteen months. We beseech our people not to descend to physical violence on this issue to remain calm, level-headed and focused. We therefore urge the government, and particularly the police, to exercise restraint and to temper the authority which they possess with compassion and tolerance.

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  1. This was on called for our freedom is gone our freedom of speech is gone antigua is gone only God can help us

  2. Give me a break! When will politicians stop siding with stupidity during this time in hopes of gaining political mileage? I am warning the UPP and the DNA that the same lawlessness they condone whether overtly or covertly is the same beast, actuality with 10x the ferocity that they’ll have to deal with later on. Deh nearga and dem never get permission for march. You have a problem with the Police Commissioner having the right to grant or deny such a privilege? Give me a break about excessive use of force. Ya too damn fast. They were told to disperse or get shell dung and they chose to disobey. You all want to wear down our police force to target gun crime, make sure you all harden f*hole nah break protocols and also deal wit aryu when you are holding a senseless march? I see you all want to preside over a lawless country.

    • That’s why Yemen,Afghanistan, Iraq and so very many Broken & Failed States are where they are today; because of mercenaries like you. Time will surely do you in

      • It seems like you have clung to words by people who support the march and you don’t know the definition so you senselessly throw together what you’ve heard without knowing the meaning of the word “mercenary” or the history of the countries you’ve mentioned. You poor, ignorant soul.

  3. CHUPS they did not get permission to march and they were not marching. The use of such naked force by the police was totally unwarranted and it was premeditated since the Attorney General said yesterday that the protestors would have something coming. Nobody has a problem with the police having the power to grant or deny permission for a march. However, even the exercise of that power by the Commissioner of Police was not done properly because his denial did not give the applicants enough time to appeal his decision.

    • Were they socially distanced ? About 15% didn’t have on mask, and the police did lawfully ask them to break up the clusters…. and you should be an officer of the court.

  4. What you saw had nothing to do with the protests at the bust of VC Bird.Those at VC Bird bust were protesting peacefully.

  5. What the police did MAY have been unnecessary….. However, we are faced with a viral pandemic of a deadly virus spreads easily & fast.
    If u were the head of this state or the police, what measures wld u implement to disperse a crowd of such, in order to prevent the spread of the virus?
    Secondly, don’t u think the laws of should be adhered to regardless one has a grievance or not???

  6. The problems with these so called political leaders they sing a different tune in power. They lacks honesty, morality and decency. Everything they do is gain power. No one is above the law and should be told so. Gathering at VC Bird buss have nothing with those that believe they do anything and get away. A good leader will condemned such dispicable behavior. You all go on with your Political gamesmanship cause one day it’s come back and bite you good Fu nothing political leaders.

  7. @Chups.Why you dont add ass to know your name.I can see a tearing Labour party voter.Nah care how much stupidity tek place under the Alp Government yall too blind to see.Ass wipe they did get permission to hold the march.I must see you and jussst run my vehicle over yah scunt.I am so highly annoyed about your comment.What if it was your child in the present that is if you do have? They have their rights in this Country.This march was held with peace so what the fuck? Police had no rights to intervene and interupt such peaceful sessions.Only police should be present are those keeping the march guarding etc.What was the use of the tear gas, the rubber bullets.Only God knows.I sorry they didnt have real bad men in Antigua to hide out some place where they could see the said police and just take them out.Yall police here in Antigua really a over do.

  8. Upp NEVER EVER in history in their time have police open tear gas on people.Alp people just do wha them feel like.How many times under Alp you hear police open tear gas? Yall better wake up smell the fucking coffee.Bunch of doedoes.

  9. What happened yesterday is a clear evidence of Law protectors vs law breakers…. In my view the protestors were wrong and very irresponsible. The viral transmission should be taken into consideration….. The police on the otherhand displayed very little degree of indiscretion & very little initiative to quell a situation of such nature & disperse a crowd that was not violent or a threat to any life or property….

  10. If this is politacal does this mean that if it was UPP or DNA in power you all would have said no mask, no vaccine, no social distance and open the country. And if covid is real and our friends and family start drop dead what you all would have done? I’m for freedom to choose. Stop making it political and make a difference in using your power to help the people come up with better solutions.

  11. The commissioner of police needs to take the next fig-boat back to Dominica. Mr. Commissoner, you have plenty to tell God. You allow these politicians to use you to take away the people’s rights and freedom to picketing. Commissioner, you claimed to be a man of God but it seems you’re a man after the devil’s heart and desires instead. How can you allow yourself to be used like that yesterday you and your officers?
    That same area every Friday and Saturday afternoon is always full of people gathering drinking and smoking weed and I never say any police there breaking up the gathering because of COVID-19 protocol ignored.

  12. Send the Mouche man back to Dominica and reunite him with his banana plantation

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