Cops and anti-vax mandate protesters clash
Gavin Stewart, attorney for Joseph Patterson, president of the United Independent Congress, said his client firmly rejects any notion of illegality for leading a march on Gordon House yesterday.
"My client said he was going about his lawful business in relation to his duties and as such has rejected any notion of illegality," he said.
Patterson and at least three other persons were arrested in connection with a protest march in downtown Kingston yesterday. Although the police had issued an advisory that it was unlawful to have a march without a permit, Patterson and others took to the streets to push for the resignation of all 63 members of parliament, and to signal that Jamaicans will not tolerate more lockdowns or accept a vaccine mandate.
Stewart said Patterson was charged for breaching the Disaster Risk Management Act, the Public Order Act and resisting arrest. He was offered bail last night. Before his arrest, Patterson told members of the media that he did not need a permit to "walk in Jamaica".
"We are here to protect the rights and freedom of Jamaicans because they deserve the right to speak, move and choose. We don't want a Jamaica where you cannot choose what goes into your body and our freedoms and rights are being trampled. The Government is trying its best to force us into something and we will not be forced into anything," he said.
Prior to the arrest and uproar, Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor told Patterson that he was breaking the law.
"I am the police authority here and you did not get any permission to carry out this march or protest. I just want it to be said that I made an effort to speak to you to let you know that this gathering is illegal and unlawful," the senior cop had warned. His warning, however, fell on deaf ears as Patterson and his followers stated that they will not be silenced and proceeded to march and chant. Shortly after, all hell broke loose as the police placed handcuffs on a few demonstrators as the crowd lashed out at them.
As the police worked feverishly to break up the gathering, another group gathered in another of downtown Kingston. Protesters accused the Government of 'forcing' the nation to get vaccinated.
"I am not running. We are Kunta Kinte today, we are Malcom X and Paul Bogle. We will not be moved or silence and even if unno move wi today, we a come back naked tomorrow," an irate woman shouted to a group of grim-faced police officers and soldiers.
"In terms of mandatory, we say 'No!'... We must understand that there is no obvious benefits of taking this vaccine; no obvious benefits. It doesn't prevent you from getting COVID. It doesn't prevent you from sending out COVID or contracting COVID and spreading it, yet still, you want to make it mandatory," anti-vax protester, Abka Kaba told THE STAR.
"We stand today as one united force, not affiliated with any party; not affiliated with any organisation apart from the human organisation...saying to the Government of this country, Jamaica land we love, 'We do not! We do not stand for mandatory vaccine of this population'."