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Tuesday 16 July 2019
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I HAD TO HEAL RIFT

Top cop on appearance at Buju concert

CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith was the centre of attention by these two women at the I Am Legend concert at Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain Sunday night. PHOTOS BY ROGER JACOB
CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith was the centre of attention by these two women at the I Am Legend concert at Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain Sunday night. PHOTOS BY ROGER JACOB

THOUGH not billed as one of the acts to perform on the night, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith made a cameo appearance on stage during the tailend of Buju Banton's I Am Legend concert almost at midnight on Sunday.

On stage, the top cop shook hands with Buju and then gave the Jamaican reggae superstar a fist bounce. Asked yesterday why he went on stage, Griffith said he did it in order to heal the rift between TT and Jamaica caused by a police raid on Buju's hotel room on Saturday.

Having just served seven years in a US prison over a 2009 cocaine deal, Buju - real name Mark Myrie - landed at Piarco Airport to a hero’s welcome on Saturday but hours later, his hotel room was searched by the police who found nothing illegal.

The search prompted an upset Buju to post on Facebook, “I just want them to know, no matter what, they can't break us.” Many fans sympathised with him including TT nationals, while some unhappy Jamaicans urged him to cancel the QP Savannah concert.

The raid was subsequently condemned by Griffith who met Buju at the Hilton Trinidad and promised a shake-up in the Police Service, to be spelt out in detail tomorrow.

“You’ll see many comments in agreement for what I did and a few negative comments,” Griffith said. He lamented that while social media has given an avenue for everyone to be an “expert” on every topic, in reality, often many critics are “absolutely clueless” over the subject matter.

“To those who love to criticise, based on either jealousy or because of their failure to understand the matter, let me clarify. A major celebrity, who is highly recognised by our Caricom neighbour Jamaica, his hotel room was searched and nothing was found and this was because of a flawed police process,” the top cop said.

Griffith said the Police Service became responsible for an issue that could have had serious implications for relations between TT and Jamaica. “Hence the responsibility, if that had happened, would have fallen solely on the Police Service and it was my responsibility to rectify it.

“Had I not done that, this could have affected our relations and could have affected our economy, because there were reports of TT goods and services being shelved based on how we had embarrassed their living icon.” Griffith hopes social media commentators would recognise the correctness of his action.

“What I did was what others on social media lack. It is called patriotism, humility and rectifying a problem by accepting responsibility. If it is my action has bridged the gap and unified TT and Jamaica, then I take full responsibility for it. “Instead of people always finding ways to criticise and condemn, they should educate themselves to understand the bigger picture, which is country before person.”

Newsday suggested most people on social media had supported his action. “Yes, yes,” Griffith replied. “The majority would have been those persons who would have educated themselves to understand the rationale behind why I did it. Had I not done it, this could have strained the relations between TT and Jamaica. What I have done is to embrace it, and I think it was very important that I did that.”

Newsday asked if he had felt any stage-fright going on stage? “Not at all,” he said. “I was ready to sing.” Of the night itself, the CoP said, “There was absolutely not one reported incident in the event. It was incident-free.”

“I wasn’t there to enjoy myself but was in command of the 300-odd police officers and I wish to commend them, especially ASP Hackshaw and Senior Supt Hodge-Griffith. It was an excellent job. They did all that was required."

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