Acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob says simply notifying the police about a march or a protest does not give anyone the authority to hold such an event. He is warning that any unauthorised march or protest, particularly during the pandemic, will be met with police intervention.
On Tuesday, head of the First Wave Movement Umar Abdullah sent to the media a letter, dated January 14 and addressed to Jacob, informing the police that he was hosting two events – one on January 14 titled Push-Back 2 – The Awakening at the Queen’s Park Savannah, and the other titled The Worldwide Rally for Freedom on January 22 at the same venue and other groups were being invited to attend.
While he did not request permission, he requested the presence of police officers “to ensure all public health protocols are observed and maintained.”
Contacted for comment, Jacob said while he did not receive the letter via email when Abdullah sent it on Friday last week, he did receive a hard copy at the Police Administration Building on Tuesday.
He said an investigator would be appointed to review the request and a decision would be made on whether permission would be granted.
"We are happy he (Abdullah) went through the proper channels to apply for the protest, so now a decision can be made."
And in an interview on a television talk show earlier on Tuesday, police corporate communications officer ASP Sheridon Hill defended the use of tear gas against those calling for a withdrawal of the government’s vaccine mandate at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Sunday.
He said the officers attempted to use suasion to disperse the crowd but to no avail.
Some of the protesters, he said, started throwing missiles at the police and that’s when the officers used non-lethal force, under the police service’s Use of Force policy, to break up the protest.
Citing the Summary Offences Act, Jacob said the police are within their rights to disperse any unauthorised gathering or march that could create a public disturbance.