When the crowd took a knee and held it in silence for nine minutes, I knew I was amidst a sea of young persons who were sending a message that the time for change is now.
The #ttblm movement gathered peacefully in the Queen’s Park Savannah, chanted and spoke their truth. For three and a half hours, the young campaigners shared stories with the crowd while drivers popped their horns in solidarity as they drove past the US Embassy.
I have nothing but admiration for these young people who dared to uncover the pus-filled lesion which their parents and grandparents have plastered over for many years. Looking around the crowd, the variation in the hue of the campaigners gave me a peek into what the future of Trinidad and Tobago will look like.
As an older person, I felt proud of their bravery. The only low point to the demonstration was the absolute show of force by the TTPS who lined the pavement opposite the US Embassy with their guns and horses on display, clearly intending to show off their power.
One cannot help but feel intimidated in the presence of such a show of weapons. This was aggravated by the ‘Gayelle-styled’ movie crew who began videotaping the crowd. The speaker on the megahorn asked the videographers to stop but this request was ignored. The videotaping continued albeit appearing to take low shots so that faces may not have been identified.
There was no attempt to de-escalate the situation. As a matter of fact, I felt that the actions of the TTPS were unfortunate and could have infuriated the crowd. The presence of the commissioner of police made no difference.
I have learned from other situations that protests and demonstrations can be quickly become volatile. I commend the young people for their exemplary behaviour and hope that, in the future, the TTPS will respect their wishes not to be documented and dial back on this need to show force. Peace and non-violence were recurrent themes of the demonstration and every effort should be made to keep it peaceful.
I noted that not one piece of garbage was left in the area. Our future is looking bright.