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‘Quash Coconut Conviction’

photo

Jason Williams

By FARRAH JOHNSON

fjohnson@tribunemedia.net

KHANDI Gibson, founder and president of the local advocacy group Families of All Murder Victims (FOAM), is calling on the government to quash the conviction of a teenager who was fined for selling coconuts on the side of the road last month.

At the time, news of Jason Williams, pictured, the 18-year-old who was fined $700 for selling coconuts roadside in breach of the COVID-19 emergency orders, sparked national outrage. In a press statement, Ms Gibson said the teenager is now “burdened” with a criminal record that stifles his chances of success.

“There is no doubt or dispute that COVID-19 and this state of emergency impacts the poor more harshly than the middle and upper class,” the statement read. “While well-off or financially stable Bahamians can manage to stay home from work for approximately two months, the poor cannot afford to miss one pay period.”

She added: “To add insult to injury, poor persons who have, in desperation, ventured out to sell coconut water on the roadside — bearing in mind that water sales were deemed essential and being sold from trailers on the side of the road — a teenage boy was arrested, convicted and fined. This teenager, seeking an honest living, is now burdened with a criminal record. His chances of getting a US visa, going to college or securing gainful employment in the future have been shattered. Meanwhile, the privileged and connected in this country get warnings and absolute discharges.”

Ms Gibson said the assistance from the government “cannot and have not” helped everyone in “dire need” during this crisis. She insisted that the less fortunate that are forced to sell items on the side of the road and tote water from public pumps to their homes “cannot afford to comply with the prime minister’s orders,” because they are living from paycheck to paycheck. She added that it appeared as if the “poor were being required to stay home and starve.”

“The public ought to remember that governments do not bow to the demands of a lone voice. What has been proven time and time again, especially in the year and months leading up to an election is that there is power in numbers, agitation, and demonstration. The citizenry is asked to agitate for the competent authority to be compassionate. That can be done by a public announcement to quash the record of the young man convicted for selling coconuts on the side of the road.

“A few months ago, the PM indicated his intent to quash the record of persons convicted for small amounts of marijuana. Yet nothing has been done. It is time the PM does more than selling us dreams. We are awake, disappointed, frustrated and organising to rid ourselves of members of Parliament that have failed to make this term, ‘The people’s time.’”

In her statement, Ms Gibson also called for the Official Opposition, along with members of Parliament and activists to work together and “agitate for the competent authority to show compassion, starting with the young man convicted of selling coconuts. “Every member of Parliament that remains silent on this issue has voiced their position,” the statement read.

“As the citizenry makes notes of the issues that demonstrate that its them — politicians and the connected — against us, the marginalized voters, this issue of showing compassion for the poor during this health, economic and democratic pandemic will be remembered, and on this, they will be judged in the months leading up to elections.”

Mr Johnson faced a prison term of one month if he did not pay his fine. Ms Gibson and others donated the sum of his fine to spare the teen prison time.

Comments

TigerB 1 month ago

The Constitution of The Bahamas is based on the Westminster Model, allowing for three distinct branches under the Governmental Structure. These include The Executive Branch, The Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch. Not sure the Executive Branch will cross over into the Judicial aspect of the government. We remember when V. Alfred Grey did that in a case, dated March 25th 2015.

EMBATTLED Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MP for MICAL V Alfred Gray has been relieved of his Cabinet post as a minister responsible for local government amid a police investigation into allegations that he used his power to interfere with the judicial process.

Perhaps the best way to keep your police record clean is to not challenge the system...not matter how good an excuse you have.

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JokeyJack 1 month ago

Tiger ??????? and after starving to death should their gravestone read "Here lies John Doe, an upstanding (now flat lying) citizen, who did not challenge the system."

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moncurcool 1 month ago

What investigation in Gray interference was done? Who relived him? You mean the people voted him out?

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birdiestrachan 1 month ago

Y *Young black men of the Bahamas are disadvantage, He should not have been arrested or charged in the courts. a simple warning would have suffice..

Remember Doc at Cabbage Beach and the destruction of property he promised to wipe their records clean. What happened to that. Was Moultrie there??

Jason Williams deserves to have his conviction quashed.

what Alfred did for the young man in the Family Island was the right thing to do. he can sleep at night. Remember the FNM Papa and the Bare foot bandit and the man who did not stand trail for Murder. Does hue have anything to do with it??

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moncurcool 1 month ago

Alfred was totally wrong. He overstepped his boundaries into the Judiciary and should have been thrown in jail.

Stop the political shenanigans and let's grow our country by putting country over party politics.

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mandela 1 month ago

If the curfew breakers upon being convicted and must pay or go to jail and then also has a stain put on his police record whereas it will hinder them in any way their ability to travel or get a job would mean this Government is heartless with no soul and compassion. What is written on the record unlawful wandering during a curfew?

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TalRussell 1 month ago

Ma comrade Mandela, no better time open a serious dialogue about what sure as hell resembles true local Trumpism in play?
Can you even begin to picture what an American landscape would look like under a second 4-year Trumpish regime?

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DDK 1 month ago

For the love of God, a criminal record for selling COCONUTS road side in The BAHAMAS? Quash the conviction and fine the judge, the arresting officer and the politician responsible for this heinous act against a Bahamian youth. There is still a huge question as to the legality of this lock-down in the name of preventing the spread of the mysterious global virus.

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bogart 1 month ago

The nation was under laws to keep hundreds of persons at home to minimize transferral and spreading of this Covid 19 virus which does not yet have vaccine. Thousands of Bahamians who are self employed depriving themselves, great efforts to follow the rules. Vendors who were in the streets and sides of streets followed the law.

At the time knowing the transferring of the Covid 19 virus this young man in this business chapping open cocunut water, pouring water into containers for consumption to each car occupant(s), changing money transferring money, transactions from one car to another......likely dealing with the only authorized workers travelling in cars and are likely First Line Workers being tempted for buying coconut water and jelly preparations and being in front of customers likely First Line Workers. Time for him to join the offenders caught smoking joint and serving penalty breaking law and doing term in prison and join the back of line.

Surprised and shocked he was being aided by young political youngsters who seems to have gone contra against senior Executies of same political group implemted law and with best at the time to stop or minimize deaths caused in the nation.

On the audacity of having to 'Quash Cocunut Conviction' should not be aided especially when hundreds of young men are in Jail convicted for smoking small ganga who did not endanger others lives versus his illegal actions endangered lives of authorized workers on road travelling and likely First Line Workers doing their super human jobs trying to assist and save other lives.

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RealTalk 1 month ago

If the FNM Government does not squash not only this young man conviction but every other person who has a 'COVID conviction', they will lose that last bit of respect I have for them. You impose these harsh and strict rules on the country to "save lives"; yet we are opening up the country to tourists with NO TESTING! I can accept the fine, but a conviction? You got to to be kidding me. PM Minnis made these rules and now it is his time to step in and make this right. Change the system. Far too long the courts have been keeping young black Bahamians down, its time the people vote in the judges. We are ruining the future of Bahamians over coconuts and a 9pm curfew; what kind of foolishness is this!!!!! Wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distance save lives, not a 9pm curfew.

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DDK 1 month ago

Look what they did to the poor guys from Eleuthera for possession of a few leaves of the merry weed. Shame on them.

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TalRussell 1 month ago

I has brought up why the conviction of a comrade teenager for selling coconut waters on the side of the road in May is telling enough, why the mere legal declaration nationhood isn't working as anything more expected out a justice system whilst still under colonial rule.
How is it we colony's 700 out islands and cays has remained so colonial administrated as we approach the 44-year milestone on the other the so-called 1976 Independence declaration? Nod once for yeah, Twice for no.

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birdiestrachan 1 month ago

John Mosko Nolle prosequi a life was lost. The bare foot bandit and cabbage beach were all right but Alfred Gray stopping a poor young man from going to jail was wrong.

The young man could have been warned told to go home. It is called MERCY which all of us are in need off.

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