“[…] Based on the video images provided by the local news media, it would appear that the actions of some of the protesters were illegal… The police officers have a duty to enforce the law.
“[…] Mr Fazeer Mohammed unleashed a tirade of abuse against the police… The police officers were doing their job, and a prominent member of the local news media was condoning law-breaking?”
The following Letter to the Editor on TV6 Morning Edition host Fazeer Mohammed’s alleged view of the policing of recent Barrackpore protests, was submitted to Wired868 by Louis Williams of St Augustine:
I was stupefied when on at least two different occasions in the last few days on TV6’s Morning Edition programme, I heard the host, Fazeer Mohammed, express the view that police officers were harassing members of the public in Barrackpore who were taking protest action as a result of the poor road conditions there.
My concern is not with the right to protest. I support that right as legitimate. My concern is that all such protests must be done within the confines of the law.
Based on the video images provided by the local news media, it would appear that the actions of some of the protesters were illegal. However, the police officers were very tolerant and sought to defuse the situation by employing strategies/tactics to de-escalate what was potentially a very volatile situation.
Nevertheless, the police officers have a duty to enforce the law. In this regard, therefore, they sought to retrieve, on a voluntary basis, the video footage from households with CCTV cameras in the immediate vicinity of the protest.
Some of these residents refused to comply with the request of the officers, who then sought and obtained the relevant search warrants to compel the residents to submit the video recordings to them.
Mr Mohammed unleashed a tirade of abuse against the police. He accused them of being driven by political motives as, in his view, they would not have pursued action against the protesters and the home owners if such an incident had taken place in Laventille or in some other area of the country that traditionally supported the PNM. To him this was an example of political victimisation.
I could hardly believe what I was hearing. The police officers were doing their job, and a prominent member of the local news media was condoning law-breaking? We have to be more responsible than that!
What is perhaps worse is that I have not heard any senior member of the journalistic fraternity, whether active or retired, condemn his recklessness.
We must never take the law into our own hands or condone such actions. That is a very dangerous path to embark upon. It leads to anarchy, inclusive of the lynch mob type of activities so prevalent in the USA in the 19th and first half of the 20th Century.
But we do not have to go that far back in time. Currently, there are enclaves, in some countries, that are administered by drug barons who operate outside of the established rule of law. These drug barons have their own system of justice. If you are a law-abiding citizen your life is in constant peril.
Some may argue that we are already on that road. However, law-abiding citizens must always support those in law enforcement who, in the battle with law-breakers, are risking their lives on our behalf on a daily basis. It is the least that we can do.
Those among us who hold prominent positions in our communities must recognise that others look up to us; we must exercise extreme caution in what we say and do.
Remember, those who look up to us often take the view that if the priest could play, who is me?