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Mayor: Legal challenge to police Carnival shut down
San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello says his council is looking at the legality of the police decision to shut down Carnival Tuesday celebrations before midnight on the basis of crime control.
Regrello has come in for praise and criticism since videos of an altercation between himself and police officers were shared on social media after the mas was shut down 30 minutes before the scheduled end.
But at yesterday’s media conference to announce the results of San Fernando Carnival competitions, he said the police’s claims of violence were unsubstantiated.
He said he took a stance based on principle, that police needed to show respect for the people of San Fernando and to the mayor’s office. He said investments were made along Coffee Street and when the event was shut down ahead of schedule, there was no way to recover earnings.
Although he called for an apology from the police on Wednesday, none was given. Instead, the Southern Division police officers remained resolute in their position.
“They have not approached us and we are weighing all our options. Right now we are looking at the legal aspects of what they are doing: If they have any right or authority to stop the Carnival? That is where we are right now and I am challenging that. I adamant about that and how they went about it was a total disrespect. I know they made a statement which in my mind was disingenuous on their part for what they’re saying. It is not true and I am challenging everything that they’re saying right now,” Regrello said.
In a response to Tuesday’s incident, the TTPS Public Information Officer ASP Micheal Jackman said that police halted last lap activities on Cipero Street because of fights and bottles being thrown.
Following the decision, some of the crowd went onto Coffee Street, where steel bands were being judged. But Regrello did not buy Jackman’s explanation, saying “that was disingenuous on his part. He cannot substantiate those claims that there were bottles pelting. Why would the people who were pelting bottles on Cipero Street move to the Coffee where there is a pan competition? To do what? To continue pelting bottles? That does not make sense. Who are the police trying to fool? They’re just trying to cover up for what they are doing and for the wrongdoing of the officers. The statement that they made yesterday, they spoke about an incident that they had on Cipero Street on Tuesday evening and that the hooligans or whoever was pelting bottles, migrated to the Coffee, that is not true.”
Following a fatal stabbing on Cipero Street, a shooting on Park Street, weapons being seized and armed robberies during J’Ouvert celebrations, Southern Division police said there were reports of fights along Cipero Street and a shooting on Tuesday night. With the music blasting and the road congested, it was difficult to manage any potential disaster and therefore ordered that all music stopped. They said bars were allowed to sell until 10 pm.
Admitting that Cipero Street had been a sore point for Carnival celebration in the past years, Regrello said consideration is being given to cut the street out of the parade route altogether in Carnival 2019. He said this will allow vendors to spread across the route, especially for the J’Ouvert celebrations.
“J’Ouvert bands are growing, the size of the bands is expanding so it’s encouraging and good for the business. At the same time, we must take the safety aspect into consideration. We are asking people to support the police in this regard,” he said.
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