'Police have no jurisdiction over my freedom to walk, my freedom to talk'
United Independent Congress president vows to take legal action following arrest during illegal marchThursday, September 23, 2021
BY CANDICE HAUGHTON
PRESIDENT of the little-known United Independent Congress (UIC), Joseph Patterson declared yesterday that he will be taking legal action against the police for what he believed was very aggressive and forceful handling of people who participated in a protest for which no permission was given, and which breached the Disaster Risk Management Act.
The UIC leader, who was subsequently arrested and offered bail, yesterday morning led members from the Rastafarian community, Muslims, and people who identified themselves as Christians in a demonstration in downtown Kingston to protest mandatory vaccination, despite no official announcement by the Government that vaccination will be mandatory.
Patterson, who was warned by the police that permission was not given for the protest due to the health risk involved with having large groups of people gathering due to the novel coronavirus, said that he was manhandled and pepper-sprayed by the police.
“They have violated my rights by manhandling me and pepper-spraying me and other members of our team; we are against that and we are going to press charges. They have taken three people into custody, I don't know why, but we are going to fight for their rights,” Patterson told the Jamaica Observer.
He continued: “The police have no jurisdiction over my freedom to walk and my freedom to talk, and [they] do not have jurisdiction over these people either. They are acting in a very forceful and irresponsible manner and we want to tell them it's wrong.”
Claiming that their lives and freedom were at stake, Patterson said, “We are being told to take a foreign substance [COVID-19 vaccine] into our body that not even the prime mister appears to understand, and he's insisting —along with employers — to take away our rights.”
According to Patterson, he is fighting to protect the life, liberty and property rights of all Jamaicans and to ensure that freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom of choice are protected.
“We are not anti-vaccination or pro-vaccination; we are pro-choice. We are here to defend the rights and freedom of all Jamaicans, including the police,” he said.
Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor, prior to the march, told the protesters that, “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”.
Also present at the protest was chairman and founder of the Rastafian Advancement Foundation, Shickell Rose, who posed a series of questions to the Government as it related to the arrests.
“Have you ever visited the tax office and how are they not being arrested for being in clumps everyday? When they had the political meetings, why didn't they arrest these people for being in clumps? Why is it when you are fighting for your rights they wanna use the Queen's subjects to oppress us? No matter what, we are here,” a disgruntled Rose said.
Additionally, Clive Muhammad, spokesperson for the Nation of Islam's Jamaican branch, said that despite the stance the police took, he supports Patterson's opposition on the vaccine mandate.
“It is important, because we need to send a message to the Government of Jamaica that what you are doing is incorrect in trying to mandate a vaccine that has not been proven safe for 100 per cent of the people,” Muhammad stated.
Using Israel's recent announcement that all fully vaccinated people should get the booster shot by October 1 or risk being labled as unvaccinated, Muhammad said, “Basically what they are saying is the vaccine is wearing out. Have you ever heard of a vaccine wearing out?”
Up to 5:00 pm on Monday, Jamaica had administered some 709,444 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Of that number, 490,953 were first doses, 196,216 were second doses and 22,275 were single doses.
Up to Tuesday 1,803 Jamaicans had died from COVID-19.