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J’Ouvert band leader defends use of national colours

MELISSA DOUGHTY Thursday, January 12 2017

DEVON Harris, the band leader of Straight Outta Dev’s, is assuring that the band has not infringed any law regarding the national flag.

But in an interview with Newsday yesterday, he said if the band did indeed infringe any law regarding the use of national emblems it would have altered its design.

The Cocoyea, San Fernando J’Ouvert band has received strong social media criticism for its costuming which bears the colours of the national flag with a similar black and white strip on some of the designs.

The band launched its 2017 presentation on Sunday.

In an interview with Newsday, Harris said, “This is our eleventh year and we have been successful for 11 years.

This is not the first time people have been trying to put negative things on social media about the band. This is nothing new to me.” He added that he was happy for the publicity.

“We are not using any flags in the band. No one is wearing a flag. No one is disrespecting the culture. We are being patriotic to our country by using the national colours,” he said.

No one, Harris contended, would wear the flag to, “roll on any ground,” as was being said on social media.

Harris said many people went to football games at the National Stadium with the national colours on and was not said to be in breach of the law.

The National Emblems of Trinidad and Tobago (Regulation) Act states, among other things, that the National Emblems Committee shall advise the Minister of National Security on: The grant and refusal of licences; the texture, workmanship and quality of material to be used in the manufacture of the Coat of Arms, the National Flag or any replica...; the fees to be payable as royalties by persons to whom permission has been granted to sell or offer for sale articles on which are imposed representations of any of the national emblems.” It adds further, “Any person who mutilates, cuts or tears or in any way defaces the Coat of Arms or the National Flag, whether by writing, printing or stamping thereon or otherwise without lawful authority on the use, etc., of the Coat of Arms, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $750 or to imprisonment for six months.” Attempts to contact a member of the committee were futile.

Harris said if what he is doing is illegal, the law should come and deal with them but people on social media could say what they want.

He said only media houses have contacted him so far. The band’s fans, he said, have been defending the band.



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