Griffith to end 'culture of lawlessness' in protests
A "virtual culture of lawlessness".
That's the way Police Commissioner Gary Griffith describes the manner in which members of the public have chosen to protest throughout Trinidad and Tobago over the years.
Griffith was responding to the University of the West Indies (UWI) protest which occurred at the St Augustine campus on October 17 in which two students were arrested. He says the UWI situation was "unfortunate".
"I do not want to deal specifically with the UWI matter, but just for information, I met with the students at the University of the West Indies and I apologised for what transpired because it was very unfortunate."
Meanwhile, the Top Cop slammed those who criticised the behaviour of police, calling them hypocrites.
“If a situation may arise of a similar nature in places such as Beetham, Sea Lots, Malick, Laventille or other places and we had done the same thing would the same persons who criticize the police service, would they have stated otherwise? And Ladies and gentlemen that is not democracy that is hypocrisy."
Griffith says this situation at UWI was not unique as citizens have a tendency to block roadways - using burning debris - to highlight the problems they face.
He was speaking at the Police Weekly Media Briefing at the Police Administration Building on Wednesday.
"For years now we have seen in this country where persons feel that every time they need to have a box drain repaired, they need to have a road repaired, they need to have extra lights in their community, they felt that the best avenue to deal with this is to block the roads, burn tires and prevent other citizens from having their rights. Now it is easy for persons to say it is their democratic right; it is not."
Griffith reiterates that it is a person's right to protest but notes that this must be done within the law.
"The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service will provide all of the support that you would need. We will provide the security, I will provide the approval for you to protest but you must protest within the law. You cannot block a road and then when you block a road, you will then try to persuade you not to do something and explain that you are breaking the law and then, if and when you are held, you resist arrest. What next would you expect the police service to do? What I am doing now is to put an end to this situation of a virtual lawless society where anyone at any time feels that they can burn tires and block roads. It has to stop."
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