St. Kitts & Nevis: Arrest Escalates Political Tensions

Political tensions in St. Kitts continue to rise following the arrest of the former People's Action Movement leader Lindsay Grant during a protest march in the capital last Friday.

The move was intended to pressure the country's Prime Minister, Denzil Douglas, to either call an election or to step down to allow the formation of a unity government. Grant was leading a “march for democracy” down Church Street and reached a police barricade set up at the intersection with Central Street when the incident took place. The video and photos below cover some of the action…

The details of the events that followed are still being disputed, with some claiming that Grant crossed the police barricades and was subsequently accosted by a police officer, and others saying that it was the actions of the officer which forced Grant across the barricade.

Protesters on the march

Protesters on the march

Grant was arrested and held at a nearby police station. Soon, large crowds began to protest in front of the station until Grant was released six hours later; discussion was heated on the “Largest St. Kitts and Nevis Facebook Group”:

Protesters outside the police station.

Protesters outside the police station.

King Black Coral blamed the police for the incident:

It's a shame that Skn [St. Kitts and Nevis] police force turn a peaceful protest into a violent one. When the criminal element have been taking over the federation where are they[?] It's so sad to say but once again the ugly face of politics is destroying our land of beauty. I witness[ed] it growing up and now it's back [to the] same thing just on the different side. This tit for tat needs to stop otherwise our federation will definitely be ruined.

Eural Huggins disputed this and felt that the protesters were largely responsible:

Ppl like you who will condone wrong for political expediency…have you watch[ed] the video? Their claim is they took that route because the ghaut was running…well if you are marching and see a barricade with police why would you want proceed if you claim to be peaceful? There were other options which they refused to take.

Sheldon Pemberton compared the recent protests to Denzil Douglas’ past action:

1993: Dr Douglas lead (sic) an illegal violent protest through the streets of Basseterre. Who is ready to die defending our Democracy with Lindsay Grant[?] The time has come for the Nation of David to take down Goliath and his cronies. Will the People Of David take their Destiny of Freedom in their/our hands[?] The choice is Ours. And Freedom had (sic) it's (sic) Price. Lets [show] the world and our children that WE ARE READY TO TAKE OVER TO MAKE OVER OUR NATION and pull it back from the jaws of a DICTATORSHIP.

Latisha Richard believed the protests were not about politics but about principles:

Why ppl saying we willing to die for politicians?? Marching for democracy is dieing (sic) for politicians? Then we want to say ppl are not standing up for the country's motto… when there's a clear stand ppl are still confused… What's sad is that the ppl who are saying these things are unsure of a job and are arguing, “Labour gimme a wuk”. It's the duty of the GOVERNMENT to supply jobs for alllll citizens whatever government is in … marching doesn't mean you're choosing sides it means you see a flaw and you want it to change… if you don't care abt the situation why do you wish to have a voice in the matter? I applaud the Robert Bradshaw labour party … but you're blind if you can't see that the labour party now is not the labour party of yesterday …

E Naevisia Scarborough, however, was ambivalent about the nature of the protest, given history of protests on the island:

 In 1967 my mom was 13, in '93 I was 14 and now in 2013 my son is 13. Three generations, nothing but babies, scared shitless by this kind of unrest and ppl believe that its (sic) ok because……. I don't condone '67, '93 or 2013. We need to get our act together. Lots of ppl saying the march was peaceful but up to which point[?] Mr. Grant provoked the situation. If all a y'all believe that we have the right to walk anywhere we want at anytime, how is it that he is the only one who tried to break the rule and pass the barricade and he is the only one who got arrested[?] There should have been lots more sitting on the bench last night. But u see I guess Mr. Grant has something to prove by getting arrested.

The photos used in this post are by Jeffrey Phipps, used with permission, courtesy the People's Action Movement Facebook page.

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