The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has had sight of an image being widely circulated on all social media platforms depicting what appears to be the Riot Squad of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda on “stand-by” mode in the vicinity of the Queen Elizabeth Highway.
It is widely known that a group of citizens and residents who have formed themselves under the banner, Freedom Fighters, have signalled their intention to hold a second peaceful protest outside of the Office of the Prime Minister later today. This would be the third of such protests in that location.
The group held their second peaceful protest last Sunday at the market square which, regrettably, went terribly awry and deteriorated into chaos and mayhem when the riot squad unleased what we described and denounced as “excessive use of force…”. We are again deeply concerned that the Police may exercise a heavy-handed approach which we view as unwarranted under the circumstances.
We urge all parties to exercise restraint and reason always and further admonish the authorities to appreciate that the right to assemble, associate and peacefully protest are among the fundamental pillars of our fledgling democracy. Likewise, we call upon the Freedom Fighters to continue to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner and to observe all established COVID-19 protocols.
We call upon the Prime Minister, Attorney General and Commissioner of Police to recognize that compassion, temperance and level-headedness are critical components in leadership and governance. We ask them respectfully to desist from taking a contemptuous, arrogant and uncaring approach for the lives and livelihoods of our citizens and residents. It is never too late to do the right thing!