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Video: Protesters Block Access To Paradise Island

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By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

DOZENS of irate Cabbage Beach vendors blocked the traffic flow to the Sidney Poitier Bridge yesterday in protest over the “sudden” closure of the main easement access to the popular beach, resulting in violent clashes with police.

At least two protestors were arrested during the standoff, with bystander cell phone video footage showing several others who lay prostrate on the bridge being dragged by armed police officers.

Some vendors even used their cars to block access to Paradise Island, prompting police officers to push on the vehicles. Vendors also claimed they were “stomped and kicked” by police during the confrontation.

Monday’s protest, described as “truly necessary chaos” by Halston Moultrie, legal advisor to the Cabbage Beach Business Owner’s Association (CBBOA), played out around noon.

The Tribune understands that vendors who showed up to the site on Monday morning were greeted by Atlantis security guards to ensure that a company could erect a new fence - effectively stopping access to the beach at the easement adjacent to the Riu Paradise Island Hotel.

Vendors said they were instructed to gather their belongings and leave the property immediately.

According to reports, vendors in the process of moving from the site began to row with security guards, prompting Atlantis staff to call in the authorities. Responding officers, once on the scene attempted to quell the matter, however, claims of aggressive policing tactics escalated the situation.

Vendors told The Tribune that during the ensuing commotion many of them were allegedly struck about the body by officers, kicked and dragged from the scene.

“All we wanted to do was work today, make some money to feed our babies,” screamed a female vendor as she shed tears at the Nassau-end of the Sidney Poitier Bridge.

That vendor claimed she was hit in the chest by police during the clash with officers.

Clutching her left shoulder, the vendor added: “We were over on (Paradise Island) and they ran us. Once we got here we were pushed, kicked and stomped on by police. We came across (to the Nassau-end) and the police were waiting on us. We didn’t want it to reach to this point. We didn’t come here with plans of blocking up this bridge or going at officers.”

“This didn’t have to get to this point,” she added. “We only wanted to work today. We only want to earn a living just like we have done for years. Now, they are telling us that new owners are closing the property. Just talk with us and we can come to some agreement where we can earn a living and (the property owners) can manage us.”

“The government lied to us and sold us out. That is what the government did and now we are being dragged, kicked, stomped - treated like dogs even though our government said they would do right by us,” she said.

Another vendor, Jahro Saunders, said he was also allegedly abused by officers.

He said he followed the crowd from Paradise Island over the bridge back to Nassau.

“We wanted to show them that we are united,” he said. “Together we stand, divided we fall. We came out (Monday) to make money. We came out with so much enthusiasm and so excited just to get our hearts broken. Three boats, one of the biggest boats in the world is in today, the Allure of the Seas, and (Sunday) was so rough on the beach I am sure that everyone behind me could say that no money was made on the beach.”

Mr Saunders, who was later arrested while in the process of blocking a lane on the bridge with his body, explained that vendors have long debated with government and property owners over beach access.

He added that many of the group’s concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

Backed by the cheers of colleagues, Mr Saunders said the government has forced vendors out on the streets without a means to survive.

He suggested that if vendors were removed from the property permanently, many will be leaving behind the only jobs they have ever known.

Ownership of Cabbage Beach was transferred from Atlantis (Brookfield) to a subsidiary of Access Industries in 2014. In late November 2015, vendors were given written notice stating that the access would be closed at the end of December.

That led executives of the CBBOA to file an injunction to have access atop the easement granted to them while the courts determined if Access Industries had the legal right to close the area.

An interim injunction was granted, allowing access via the easement until the Supreme Court could make a ruling on the matter.

On January 6, 2016 Justice Bernard Turner refused to extend that interim injunction filed against Atlantis (Brookfield Asset Management), delaying his official ruling.

Justice Turner said the matter lacked clarity on both sides and appealed to legal consul for the CBBOA to adjust legal applications submitted to the court to show the changes in ownership of the property.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe has long called for the continued use of the access.

However, vendors on Monday suggested that earlier assurance from him was only given as “lip service to the masses.”

Vendors said Mr Wilchcombe visited them at the beach on Sunday.

They said the West End and Bimini MP gave assurances again that their jobs on the property were safe and would not be affected by any deal the government made with Access Industries.

When contacted by The Tribune for comment, Mr Wilchcombe said the vendors have a responsibility to improve the quality of service they offer at the site.

He said while the vendors have operated at the beach for many years, “many issues developed and the decision to close the access to the beach followed the sale of property.”

Mr Wilchcombe said the government would continue their discussions to arrive at a conclusion that will allow the vendors to earn a living.

WARNING: VIDEO BELOW HAS SOME STRONG LANGUAGE

Comments

GrassRoot 3 years, 6 months ago

Gotta give it to the Police: Trying to move a protester with your left hand, while holding a gun in your right hand. Says a lot about lack of training and the mindset of the police officer.

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GrassRoot 3 years, 6 months ago

oh jea, dear Tribune: any word why these people are protesting? Maybe the increase of the toll, maybe to protect Flamingos in San Salvador? Or to fight the ZIKA virus? To readmit the two Cubans?

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Chucky 3 years, 6 months ago

since you didn't read the story, here's and excerpt giving the "why"

"Beach workers blocked access to the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge early this afternoon, in protest at this morning's closure of the Cabbage Beach entrance adjacent to the Riu Paradise Island Hotel."

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 6 months ago

Yep. Not even addressing why he needed an assault rifle that close to 10 unarmed vendors. But if someone did get violent, I suspect the first thing they'd attempt would be to wrestle the gun from his one hand hold. They do the same at Junkanoo. Imagine the rocket launchers.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 6 months ago

"Look here", Why are people so excited at the sign of potential violence

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TalRussell 3 years, 6 months ago

Comrades the spirits dead Africans buried under dat $2 toll bridge must be rising in anger at scene portrayed in this story’s picture.
Oh yes, Papa Hubert’s regime constructed the Paradise Island Bridge right over the road covering an abandoned African graveyard.
The picture seems indicate that possibly the Chinese government’s $1.2 million in riot armory gear may have run out dog whistles?
PLP Cabinet, these are your own damn people. You’re maybe no more than one step away from using 'dog-whistle' politics on your own people and it seems not to bother any of you in the least.
Tis risky to gamble against the growing potential of all hell breaking out downstairs in front House of Assembly, if ever a policeman’s shoots a protester or bystander?
In name Jesus…. think!
People are being pushed too damn far by this PLP cabinet. Don't you remember the day when PM Papa Hubert had to be escorted hurriedly to his official car away from the angry crowd in front House of Assembly?

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by TalRussell

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MonkeeDoo 3 years, 6 months ago

Tal: You worryin' bout Africans under da bridge but plenty Africans and Europans buried under Harbour Bay Shopping Center. Between East Cemetery Lane and West Cemetery Lane. Da Swiss Bank chopped up East Cemetery Lane and they can't get Brave to fix it. Look like Red Carpet Inn got a building right in the road.

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banker 3 years, 6 months ago

2 out of 3 policeman are too fat. Don't know why a cop has to bring a submachine gun to an unarmed protest.

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TalRussell 3 years, 6 months ago

Comrade Banker the scary part is that to authorize which policeman's would respond and what potential force would be present to respond with, had to come down from the appropriate high up in command authorizing officer.

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themessenger 3 years, 6 months ago

It would appear that the owner of the land that these people have been traversing to access the beach has exercised their rights and have closed their boundaries. They are no doubt fed up with the daily litter, language and bad attitude of we people, even more ignorance on display on the bridge for all we tourist to witness first hand as well as every home ,business owner and hotel employee being seriously inconvenienced by a few disgruntled vendors. Ah my people, they won't let you down, they won't disappoint you.

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SP 3 years, 6 months ago

Asshole post from an ASSHOLE!

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 6 months ago

I think it's great that they're fighting for their rights, it's pretty sad that we have no regular Bahamians owning beach front property. but rights come with responsibility. Two sides

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TalRussell 3 years, 6 months ago

Comrade Beach Vendors it isn't like the PLP Cabinet have not been given "written notice" by the foreigners how they WILL be locking them sliding gates to block your beach access.
But no worry cause the cabinet will help y'all vendors to hold fundraising cookouts to raise the funds to support your families.
Comrade Androsian Clarence Bain has be screaming up from his grave; great God almighty what manner of a PLP cabinet is this we have - when foreigners can tell the people's cabinet how we Bahamaland is going be runs under they rules?
Comrades cry shame because they are not only denying access to 100 plus beach vendors - they are denying ALL Bahamalanders and our tourists access.
And, what does the party of the people do. They send armed policeman's to deal with the native vendors.

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TalRussell 3 years, 6 months ago

Comrades could it be that the PLP cabinet rushed to delay the new $2 toll because they knew the beach's access would be blocked? They must have no idea the potential for all hell break lose if that gate stays locked come the public holiday? And, why wasn't Minnis, along with his nine red House MP's not over there with Bull Horns - unlock this damn gate, now?
Tribune you needs ask Commish, if his officers had advance notice of the closing of the gate?

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 6 months ago

We are seeing how much the PLP cares about the "small man" in living colour

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TalRussell 3 years, 6 months ago

Comrades do Bahamalander's still own the land which the Lynden Pindling airport sits on, and if not, which government sold it and to whom was it sold?

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banker 3 years, 6 months ago

Something is rotten in Denmark with NAD. There are numerous references to it being a Bahamian company yet when I do a business lookup, it says that it is privately held. All of the upper management-- with the notable exception of Vernice, are Vantage -- Canadian -- and it says that it is a self-sustaining commercial entity not receiving any government subsidies. The management cited on the LPIA website are in fact directors of the government airport authority and not NAD.

The company got hundreds of millions in financing, and I don't see how a management company with a 10 year contract would every get a payback out of a 10 year management contract ... but the funny part is that they own a piece of the company that gave them the contract? Something is not right.

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JJSherman 3 years, 6 months ago

As a Bahamian I am so proud of these people exercising their constitutional rights, it's about time that they stand up for what is right. Unlike when I was coming up in the Bahamas, my parents was so afraid to voice their opinions about the injustice that they was forced to endure. This is one of the reason's that I relocated the country, and had no desire to live there anymore. What the Government don't understand the young youths of the Bahamas is not going to stand for the injustice that's been forced upon their parents, and Grandparents. Enough is enough and too much of something is not good enough for nothing. They don't care about no one but themselves and that's the God's truth. Giving these ignorant mindless policemen guns is like giving an ass a toilet to sit on, and the ass has no idea on how to use the facilities. These people has the rights to protest and they are not giving that right as citizens that's in the constitution of the Bahamas. Bearing arms is not the rights of the police, either, before becoming independent the police was not given g the rights to bear arms. What they are doing is creating a nation of angry people who are simply sick and tired of the forced institutional of slavery that people are forced to live in and provide for their families and themselves. Until Government do right by it's people then the people will respect the Government. All we can do is hope and pray for change, I mean really buckle down and pray. God answers prayers of hurting people. And this is what the people of the Bahamas need to do. Remember that vengeance is not ours saith the Lord, in giving these leaders to God and allowing Him to hold them for their sins and the bad seeds that they have willfully sowed into the nation of the Bahamas, there will be no justice and no peace.

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Gotoutintime 3 years, 6 months ago

Let me first say that I have a great deal of sympathy for the good and honest Vendors who go about their business on the Beach in a friendly and professional manner. I am white and therefore considered a "Tourist" and shudder to think of the actions of just a few who feel that they, being Bahamians, can behave in any manner they see fit. Many times I have been pestered, hassled, and if I refuse to purchase what I don't want, I get cursed. It is a shame that some people refuse to learn basic human decency until it is too late.

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SP 3 years, 6 months ago

............................................ Bahamians first MY ASS! ....................................................

This and successive lousy ass FNM and PLP M governments sold Bahamians out to foreign interest at every turn.

40,000 work permits to foreign domestic household workers, now denying Bahamians access to earning an honest living on the beach?

HELL NO!

Time for the crooked PLP, FNM and their crooked foreigners to carry their lousy ass's OUT of our country!

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DillyTree 3 years, 6 months ago

This access point is PRIVATE property. There is no public access. The owners have chosen to exercise their right to their PRIVATE property. What constitutional right are you all braying about? There is none -- just the constitutional right for a property owner to enjoy his own property in quiet and peaceful possession.

Typical idiot Bahamians thinking they have a right to everything. Next you'll be telling me we own BTC, BEC and all the other acronyms. When last did you see a dividend payment from them into your bank account?

And don't get me started on the bahaviour of some of these vendors. Foul-mouthed, rude, aggressive and nasty. Who would want them on their property? And what message does this send to our visitors? Trash, food, and dirty diapers left behind. Have we no shame? If this is OURS, then we should be protecting and keeping it clean, shouldn't we? Or do we just not care? Oh, because we're entitled to it...

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themessenger 3 years, 6 months ago

A point people like SP and Obie Ferguson conveniently like to turn a blind eye too. One has to wonder what SP and Ferguson's reaction be if they owned beachfront property and were told by the government that they had to allow free access across their property, the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth couldn't done. Yes there should be beach access for Bahamians but the government cannot arbitrarily acquire private property for that purpose without paying the legitimate owners proper compensation for their land. Likewise the vendors association would do themselves a favor if they would police their own as their reputation, like that of the jet ski operators, precedes them for the same reasons.

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banker 3 years, 6 months ago

So I watched all of the video on social media, and I saw a senior police officer, dressed in khaki, actually kick a protester after pushing her away so that a taxi could get by. To me, that is assault, and that police officer should be charged. He was just real eager to manhandle the protesters.

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John 3 years, 6 months ago

Didn't Obie Wilchombe swear that this beach access issue was straight and was NEVER going to be taken away???

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TalRussell 3 years, 6 months ago

Comrades regardless of how many khaki brown shirts and red stripes down they pants legs policeman's the government unleashes upon the people, this is the day to make it damn clear to all Beach Snatchers, foreigners and natives alike, that all Beaches on all 700 islands and cays public access is a universal right and necessary for all the natives and tourists enjoyment of Bahamaland's Beaches.
Say NO Damn Way to denying public Beach access..
If it ain't a given right in the constitution then the only referendum we need on changing we constitution is one that guarantees Public Right of Beach Access.

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