Protestors cry foul after arrest of UIC president, othersWednesday, September 22, 2021
BY CANDICE HAUGHTON
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- President of the United Independent Congress (UIC), Joseph Patterson was among several persons arrested during a public march organised by the political party in downtown Kingston on Wednesday.
After Patterson's arrest, scores of disgruntled protestors marched toward the Kingston Central Police Division Headquarters demanding that he be released.
Amid shouts of "Freedom!" and "Free Patterson!" the protestors, which included members from the UIC party and the Rastafarian and Christian communities, alleged that the arrests were unlawful and a violation of their rights as citizens.
“I think it was unjust. I think all of this was to be expected, and now we see how far and deep the corruption and injustice goes,” one UIC member, Aretha Williams told OBSERVER ONLINE.
The protestors took to the streets for the planned march on to Gordon House despite the police warning that the activity would be in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA). They were demonstrating against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines – despite no such mandates being given by the Jamaican government – and demanding the resignation of all 63 members of parliament.
“We are not saying no to a vaccine, we are saying no the direction of making it mandatory. We have come in our numbers to not so much speak out against the vaccine, because we all have gotten vaccines as children,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, a member of the Rastafarian community, Barrington Mattocks added, “People need a leader with vision. The people dem a go suffer because they have no leader. Without spirituality we are weak, so them always run up on one of us. But when we come together with spirituality them cya touch us.”
Patterson was arrested shortly after Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor issued a warning to protestors that the demonstration was not authorised by the police and as such they were breaking the law.
“I would like to speak with everybody here in an individual way. My commissioner has given me instructions that there was no permission given for any gathering,” McGregor addressed the public.
After issuing the warning, the senior cop confirmed with Patterson whether the UIC president took “claim for the gathering,” to which Patterson said that he is responsible.
“This, therefore means you are committing a breach under the Public Order Act and also the Disaster Risk Management Act, which speaks to no gathering of more than 10 people,” McGregor told a stoic Patterson.
However, Patterson was not pleased with the cop's stance and stated, “We and the police are friends, we respect the police, we support the police, but we are opposed to tyranny.
“We will respect and obey the police so as they agree to protect our rights to freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom of choice. If the police choose to go against our rights, then unfortunately we cannot support the police. We are going to follow the instructions to have a peaceful, corporative, organised and disciplined walk from here right up to Gordon House,” he said to approval from his supporters.
After about two hours of marching in Central Kingston, the police made their move and Patterson was arrested, amid angry cries from his followers.