THE allegation that members of the Democratic National Alliance were carried out on the instruction of “someone higher” than the police are very disturbing.
Whether those allegations are true or not, however, that the situation reached a point where leaders of a political party in this country were arrested for unlawful assembly is disturbing by itself.
It looks even worse when you compare the response of the police to the gathering by the Democratic National Alliance and the lack of any response to gatherings held by the Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party.
If this gathering had been led without a licence by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, would he have been arrested? If it had been led by PLP leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, would he have been arrested? We very much suspect not.
Mr Davis was among those supporting Mrs Komolafe yesterday, along with Glenys Hanna Martin MP and former leader of the Opposition Loretta Butler-Turner.
Mr Davis compared the response to this DNA gathering with the protests that took place while the FNM were in opposition, and said Dr Minnis was “clearly carrying this country down a path that will be clearly undemocratic”.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Paul Rolle denied any kind of political victimisation, saying: “I do not take instructions from politicians.”
He said that the DNA protest on March 3 was an unlawful assembly, and that the group “pushed on officers” in an attempt to gain entry to the House of Assembly.
He said he decided not to charge the members on March 3, but to deal with the situation later. Asked why it took three weeks to decide to do so, he somewhat arrogantly said that by law he is allowed a year to take action.
Was this really the best solution, Commissioner? Was the misdemeanour so egregious that one of the challengers to become the next Prime Minister ought to be arrested?
There have been a number of other occasions where protests have been held without telling the police – is everyone going to be arrested in future?
And is the police being informed of every party’s gatherings in communities – and if not, then why are they different?
We are in the phoney war period before the election bell is rung, but everyone knows an election is coming. Candidates are going to be taking their message to the people across the nation. To stop those candidates is, whether deliberate or not, to stifle democracy.
If the plan was to silence the DNA, then it’s also a terribly foolish plan. The publicity surrounding these arrests has only amplified their message.
This event took place weeks ago, and suddenly it has become a cause celebre, because someone decided arrests should be made over a protest everyone had already forgotten about.
There is no suggestion anyone was harmed, there is no suggestion it was a major disruption. Should we really be holding democracy back over petty procedure?
To return to those allegations, though – there must be a thorough probe to investigate whether there was any higher involvement. Given the failings of the police in investigating its own body in the past, we would suggest an independent investigation.
We must protect the reputation of our democracy – and a thorough investigation must be carried out to prove, or disprove, such claims.
Bay Street businesses want a piece of the action, it seems. Good, it’s not before time that something was done to lift the fading attractions of Downtown.
With Nassau’s cruise port undergoing a transformation, and developments such as The Pointe already putting a new face on the area, traders and property owners on Bay Street don’t want to be forgotten.
We have long argued that it is long past time for Downtown to get a fresh look. There are too many properties that are rundown, that need investment – and the very shape of Downtown itself is perhaps in need of a bold vision, with most of the businesses facing their backs to the cruise ships as they arrive and not enticing people in as they disembark.
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar admits to a lack of consensus – too many people wanting too may different things, in other words. He met business owners last week, who wanted to know how they will benefit from the redevelopment.
A revival of Downtown has been talked about for decades – well, it’s time for action. If not, other areas are ripe for development and could leave them behind.
It’s time to find some of that consensus – and long past time for action.