UPP calls on Police Force to be peace-keepers and decries indiscriminate tear-gassing of residents


The United Progressive (UPP) unequivocally condemns the indiscriminate tear-gassing of nationals and residents – on the streets and in several urban communities – by the Riot Squad of the Police Force on Sunday, August 8, 2021.

The use of tear-gas against defenseless men, women and children was unwarranted, excessive, and a mockery of the Police’s duty to be peace-keepers first – even in adverse situations, says Political Leader Harold Lovell.

In the first instance, the Freedom Fighters for Antigua and Barbuda had invited residents to gather in “peaceful and orderly” fashion on Sunday, after permission to march was denied on Friday, August 6 – a mere two days before – effectively depriving them of the right of appeal.

No march was undertaken on Sunday and, by all reports, there was, indeed, peace and order, as the group and its supporters exercised their freedom of speech on a topical issue.

At no time was the safety of the gathering compromised by disorderly behaviour, or breaches of the COVID-19 protocols, or threats against the Police.  Therefore, the officers’ use of such force – which, easily, could have turned deadly as persons ran, gasping, from the tear-gas – was uncalled for, Lovell says.

The reported tear-gassing in the Rural West and Rural South communities – residential areas not at all involved in the gathering – was nothing short of gratuitous violence against innocent people, many of them elderly or infants, or in poor health, Lovell adds.

These actions provoked the unfortunate retaliation of some residents – bearing out the adage that “violence begets violence.”

Around the world and in our own Caribbean region, similar events – common to most democracies – were staged without violence being visited by the Police upon their citizens.

Therefore, what happened  here on Sunday afternoon has damaged the confidence and trust that citizens should reasonably be able to repose in officers of the law.  It has also severely damaged the cooperative relationship between the Force and the citizenry it is meant to serve.

Further, it has cemented in the minds of many the belief that the Police are merely tools of the current political directorate – which is unfortunate, as the Party knows there are many good and professional officers within the ranks.

Finally, Lovell condemns the desperate attempts of the Antigua Labour Party and its mouthpieces to transpose the responsibility for Sunday’s travesty to the United Progressive Party.

Seeking permission for the aborted march and inviting residents to the gathering were the responsibility of the group that has identified itself as the Freedom Fighters for Antigua and Barbuda, which is not affiliated with the UPP in any way.  The UPP has no need to wear camouflage, the Leader states.

“What the Labour Party is attempting to do – though in vain – is downplay the level of disaffection, disenchantment, and disgust it has engendered among the general population and even among persons who once counted themselves as supporters.

“The people, however, clearly recognize and reject this tired and predictable ploy,” Lovell notes.

The UPP continues to support the constitutional rights of individuals to assemble and to speak freely, whether or not it agrees with their positions.  “That is democracy,” the Political Leader declares.

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  1. “1968 Redux”

    Where was the tear gas when the Jamaicans and Spanish naga were attacking the police? The ALP can only find teargas for indigenous Antiguans? Disgraceful!

  2. 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….

  3. Is it a coincidence that when the PM was leaving A & B there was a photo with him and the top brass of law enforcement been briefed. So many times he has left the country and there was no photo op. On the other hand…If dem brok de law and did not adhere to the law enforcement command/demand, TEAR GAS dem backside. We are a country with laws and the law enforcement is there to protect the laws. Some people like to use law enforcement conveniently.

  4. Only the labour government has ever tear gas the citizens of Antigua. The last labour government to do this was voted out of office. Where they find money to buy tear gas and rubber bullets? The police should go and find the criminals and stop brutalizing Antiguans. Did Barbados brutalized their citizens when they marched through Bridgetown? No because the government respected the people who elected them.

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