Horns honked through the Savannah as the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) held a rally in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the US in front of the US embassy in Port of Spain
MSJ political leader David Abdulah said the protest took the form of asking people, via placards, to blow their horns if they thought black lives mattered, as they were driving past the embassy.
Abdulah and four members of the MSJ gathered on Wednesday in front of the embassy, in accordance with the covid19 regulations of no gatherings larger than five.
He said the BLM movement had developed into a huge popular rebellion in the US sparked by the murder of George Floyd last week, but was also a response to general racism, violence against people of colour, the issues of wealth and income inequality, and discrimination against black people in terms of housing, education and healthcare, especially during the covid19 crisis.
Abdulah said the MSJ was expressing solidarity not just because it was one of the party’s core principles but because the Caribbean has a huge diaspora in the US. He said there is injustice and inequality and discrimination here in TT as well, but it is also important to express solidarity with others who are engaged in a struggle at this moment.
“People in TT have cousins, brothers, sisters, parents, friends, former co-workers and neigbours and so on living in the US and they too are subjected to the same racism and discrimination as African Americans and other people of colour, so it’s important for us to express solidarity with them. significantly we are now getting a number of important Caribbean voices raised, like UWI vice chancellor Prof Sir Hilary Beckles, Bishop Clyde Harvey, and the former West Indies cricket captain Darren Sammy, among others.”
He condemned US President Donald Trump and said he was causing more hate and division in the US than anyone else.
“His statement of 'when the looting starts the shooting starts,' which is an old racist statement in the first place, was a signal for the law enforcement people to shoot people down. And then he wants to call out the military to dominate and repress, that is the opposite of democracy, of human rights, of civil rights and all that America claims it stands for.
"Therefore they have no moral authority to tell us about these issues whatsoever.”
Abdulah said the presence of protesters outside the US embassy was to let the US government know that people in TT are engaged in solidarity with the movement there to end 400-500 years of injustice and racism and discrimination.
There were at least 17 police personnel present outside the embassy. Acting ASP Sooker said they heard about the protest through posts on social media and turned up in full force to ensure law and order was maintained. He said the police had been expecting more than the five people who came out with the MSJ, along with three supporters. He said the 17 personnel were in groups of three and each group was spaced out with at least six feet in between, in accordance with the public health regulations.