Home / Rio 2016 / Griffith: Marisa had larger police security detail than National Security Minister

Griffith: Marisa had larger police security detail than National Security Minister

Eighteen year old star Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick was arguably the second most secure person in the country yesterday, as she attended a Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) press conference with more than double the police security detail of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Only Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was likely to be as well guarded yesterday.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (centre) was accompanied by five police officers at the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) press conference on 20 April 2016 at the Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick (centre) was accompanied by five police officers at the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation (TTGF) press conference on 20 April 2016 at the Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Dick, who secured a spot for Trinidad and Tobago at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, had five policemen in tow when she appeared at yesterday’s press conference at the Chamber of Commerce in Westmoorings.

The policemen were assigned due to alleged death threats that the star gymnast, who was born in Canada but has dual citizenship, received since she controversially replaced Thema Williams at the Rio Test event on April 17.

However, at least one gymnastics insider doubted whether Dick was directly threatened at all, with TTGF president David Marquez apparently bearing the brunt of the vitriol.

Former National Security Minister Gary Griffith said he felt the large police presence was highly unusual.

“There is no structured number (for police security), it is based on the threat assessment of the individual,” Griffith told Wired868. “So it will always vary. (But) there is no threat there that she should have security wrapped around her. That has to be more cosmetic than anything else.

“It must have been done to look good. I can’t see why she should have more security than (Opposition Leader) Kamla (Persad-Bissessar) or (National Security Minister) Edmund (Dillon) or even the AG (Faris Al-Rawi).”

Photo: PNM supporters poke fun at the outgoing Prime Minister on 7 September 2015 at Balisier House. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: PNM supporters poke fun at the outgoing Prime Minister on 7 September 2015 at Balisier House.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Griffith gave examples of police details assigned to ministers who received death threats during his tenure, as well as to the opposition leader.

“Under the People’s Partnership, there was a threat assessment and (Roodal) Moonilal had an officer assigned,” said Griffith. “That was one officer. McLeod also had one officer assigned him at one point…

“Then there was a situation with the leader of the opposition. That person could be in a position where nearly half of the country wouldn’t like you and there would be businessmen who could lose millions because you are targeting their contracts and so on.

“I set a precedent where the opposition leader would have (at least) two special branch officers at any one time.”

Griffith said the case for his own detail was different. The former minister was instrumental in shutting down the controversial Life Sport programme, which funnelled millions of dollars into the hands of alleged gangsters, including Jamaat-al-Muslimeen member Rajaee Ali, who is now imprisoned and awaiting trial for the murder of attorney Dana Seetahal.

Photo: Self-titled Muslim radical and Jamaat-al-Muslimeen member Rajaee Ali.
Photo: Self-titled Muslim radical and Jamaat-al-Muslimeen member Rajaee Ali.

At the height of Griffith’s “war” against multiple gangs throughout the country, he was guarded by four policemen.

“There were National Security ministers who did not need any security because they were giving gangs contracts to raise money and so on,” Griffith told Wired868. “I was different because I was bold enough to shut down an institution that was giving money to gangs. So I was stepping on the toes of gangsters.

“There was a clear and present danger in the case of what I was doing. At any one time, I would get up to four officers.”

Griffith said it was only if he was going for a walk around a hot spot like Laventille and Maloney, after an explosion of gang violence, that he would take closer to 10 or 12 policemen. So he said Dick’s detail raised eyebrows.

It is uncertain as to who assigned that many policemen to Dick and the TTGF for a press conference.

A source at the Ministry of Sport revealed that TTGF general secretary Elicia Peters Charles called the facility manager and requested to use the Hasely Crawford Stadium for its press conference. But only if the gymnastics board was guaranteed police protection.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right). (Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation officials (from right) Ricardo Lue Shue, Elicia Peters-Charles and David Marquez pose with Sport Minister Darryl Smith (second from right).
(Courtesy Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs)

“She said the only way they would have the press conference at the stadium was if there would be security,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I understand the facility manager told her there would be security at the stadium as always. And said said no, they want police.

“She was then told that for any arrangements with the police, there would need to be a police report; because the police can only act on evidence and not hearsay…

“She called back later to say thanks for the offer but because we have security concerns, we feel you all can’t provide security for us.”

At the subsequent press conference in Westmoorings, Marquez revealed that board members had received death threats although, he claimed, the TTGF had only withdrawn Williams from the Test event in the interest of her health.

“We the same people in front of you (…) whose lives have been threatened—and that’s a fact,” said Marquez, “I can’t believe in this country this is where we’re reaching—because we cared about the athlete (Thema Williams).”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) hugs relatives as she is welcomed home from Rio by her fans at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016. (Courtesy Lou-Ann Sankar/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Thema Williams (centre) hugs relatives as she is welcomed home from Rio by her fans at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday 20 April 2016.
(Courtesy Lou-Ann Sankar/Wired868)

Dick did not mention any threats to her life at all but instead shared her joy at securing Trinidad and Tobago a place at the upcoming Olympics. She said she had Williams’ support whenever she competed—including in Rio—and the feeling was mutual.

“I was really proud that Trinidad is going to be represented, whether it was myself or Thema,” said Dick. “It is just that gymnastics is a growing sport in Trinidad and Tobago and the Olympics is the biggest thing…

“Trinidad will be represented in the Olympics. It is just really exciting.”

Former TTGF coaching board representative Dale Ali, who resigned yesterday in protest against the board’s actions, claimed that the local gymnastics body has arguably hurt Dick more than Williams.

“The whole country would have been celebrating (Trinidad and Tobago getting a gymnastics spot in the Olympics) but (the TTGF) destroyed that,” Ali told Wired868, “and you mashed up Marisa more than Thema. The country hates Marisa and it is not her fault. She is a pawn.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games. Dick placed 14th with a total of 51.25. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago gymnast Marisa Dick competes at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
Dick placed 14th with a total of 51.25.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Of course she wants to go to the Olympics and she wants to beat Thema. You are fighting for your spot. But that is healthy and it is the same in every gymnastics team in the world.

“So Marisa is not to blame. If anything, John (Geddert) opened the door for them (with his training report that criticised Williams’ training performance on Friday).”

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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141 comments

  1. Her mother is Trinidadian that’s makes her Trini. But allyuh boldface yes.

  2. You know. Is only recently I realized she not even from Trinidad but representing. Really didn’t know much about the Thema/ Dick fiasco. Now it makes me absolutely sick. Nepotism at its finest. Let me go to Canada and say my mom is Canadian na. We’d see if they let me represent their country in such an event.

  3. cant complain about this when so much feelings been aggravated toward what she been dealt with. yal so .. sigh (thema support :))

  4. Blatant racial discrimination if yuh ask me. Cause long time they was organising that move even though she better than Marisa hmm. In a so called multi ethnic country eh

  5. While I’m not in support of wat dey did 2 Thema all d haters comment in here will b d same 1s sayin congrats 2 an feelin proud if she goes an brings home a medal fer us I’m sure…alyuh emotional an political comments will do nun 2 change wat has already transpired so grow up an live wit it ppl

  6. But correct if im wrong did williams had all that man power behind her

  7. U issa ass awah ……west police top top ???

  8. I know you wanted this play eh

  9. We are a people who have no understanding of integrity far less patriotism so we are easily bought and sold lord put a hand

  10. Why does they trying to push Dick down our throat?!

  11. Pure and simple bullshit at its best…

  12. Okay well let’s not blame the girl for this. No need to be hating her even if you disagree with the way things were handled. Truth is this dual citizenship thing happens all he time in sports. In a different field now. What about Tessanne Chin? She was able to be on The Voice because she had dual citizenship. Where we upset for that? Maybe some Americans were. We are acting just like them.

    • Because there was no blatant victimization of another to get tessanne on the voice. Its a shame but people are upset about what happened and marissa sadly is the scapegoat

    • Precious Jack yea so we do not need to be a hateful people towards her regardless. Surely we can show love and support for Thema without being so negative toward another human being. We can be different.

  13. She know is shit she do that’s why she need all this police escort. Hope they could respond when normal citizens call on them

  14. Why do we keep sending some athletes to the Olympics when their standards are way below the mark to win any medal?

  15. It is very interesting how these so called people with dual citizenship as marissa claims her mother is a trinidadian . dont even know the national anthem, the watch words , who the prime minister is , who the president is and representing trinidad and tobago. whenever they cant make it elsewhere they used trinidad, what a shame. it is about time something is done about this. where is stepen ames now , came back and fool some people witha clinic and got praises and medals from trinidad and that’s it.well yes . i have no more to say on this matter.

    • Christopher Birchal remember him? Represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 world cup. He did not know our anthem either. 4oom runner for America. Trinidad born and grow but choose to run for the states. I think he won to gold medals at the Olympics. If I were up to me. No body Going Brazil. Case close.

    • Seriously!! putting Birchal down? Nah man

    • Birchal is a boss Renaldo Smith did you not real the article he wrote about his time representing our nation. You should find and read it and educate yourself….

    • Davis Melville and Justin Charles. I don’t know anywhere in my statement where I put Birchal down. I bought 2 jerseys both were #7. Guess who’s number was that?

      I was just making the point that even if a person was born in another country doesn’t mean that they can’t play or work just as hard for another. My point was people does this all the time and I was pointing out that we also had it happening both with a Trinidad and Tobago national and a British national. How you guys can see that as me putting Christopher Birchal down is beyond me. ? ? ? ?

    • Renaldo Smith, I see your point..your message was misunderstood..

    • Christian Rodriguez, thank you…

  16. Pandering to the Canadians that recently posted a travel advisory. Dick could’nt make the Canadian team so Trini buy foreign used.

  17. Some of you people are really insulting.

  18. Creating interest with a presence. How intimidating.

    Marisa is the sweetheart of the TTGF. A privileged girl with motivated friends, family, and coaches in all the right places making sure she gets to Rio. The Olympics are a big deal not just for the athlete, but for all players involved.

    They still have much more up their sleeves than Geddert or anyone could ever have thought. Unfortunately he didn’t have a defence plan in place, as the TTGF actions were “unthinkable”. Someone who plays by the rules would not have considered the lack of morals of the group behind the scenes planning their attack.

    While poor Thema and her coach were busy and focused on her training, Marisa’s people have been busy strategizing and staying out of the limelight, like cats patiently waiting for that perfect moment to pounce.

    Next, they will use the media to try and manipulate the kind hearted TT people, to support Marisa, and to distract from the fact they robbed Thema of the spot she earned. They will appear to be innocent. Make themselves out to be the victims. Endear Marisa to the world. Something heart wrenching I’m sure.

    My heart goes out to Thema.

  19. The TTGF is going deeper into the pit they have dug for Thema. All this big debacle as though we as the citizens are wrong because we support Thema. Even if she medals I just can’t feel happy. Thema’s dream was ruined because of these scoundrels or should I say wharf rats.

  20. These ppl have to be mad.tax payers being forked up by PNM and TTGF

  21. She ever pay tax? She know the anthem? So why my tax dollar protecting her and can’t do the same for state witnesses? Our Police Services has its priorities mixed up.

  22. Gyhul get away eh with your foolishness

  23. I agree Janine, it’s a little overbearing, I feel that this is being influenced by her parents.

  24. When you know you do wrong thing you need to look over your shoulders. If tax payers money paid for this security then something is very wrong here.

  25. You have to be of Trini parentage or up to grandparentage in some cases.

  26. Came kinda late to the dance huh? …

  27. Yea but she not going though!! Brian Lewis doh disappoint T&T eh!! I’m sorry but I am not supporting Marisa Dick. All this patriotic talk about Trinidad and Tobago having gymnastic representation at Rio to garner public sympathy through our patriotic pride(really psychology)….nah! She didnt win fairly. Message HAS to be sent!! Or is it that Trinis are just a bunch of bruhahas with no cahones,strength or the WILL to do anything morally right. So yea she and her camp could sue from now till their last somersault…a STRONG message has to be sent!! Or we will forever be blaming “the system.”

  28. it is time the rules are changed, if yu have a trace of trini heritage you can apply to represent tt

  29. She’s not a popular candidate and this is an uncomfortable situation … sending her as a candidate is not gonna be the smartest call ……