Saturday, April 29, 2017

IS THIS LEGAL?

...I broke no law says Carnival designer

Designs from the j'ouvert band "Straight Outta Dev's".


A San Fernando-based J'ouvert band is taking heat over its costume design resembling the Trinidad and Tobago national flag.

The band, Straight Outta Dev's, launched its 2017 presentation on Sunday. The colours red, white and black were selected to represent this year's theme “Trinidad”.

Photographs of the costumes were posted on social media at midnight on Sunday. And immediately, questions were raised as to whether the designs were legal.

Permission must be sought from a national emblem's committee at the Ministry of National Security on the use of national emblems and symbols, the Express was told.

But designer, Merlyn Harris, said her family band broke no law by using the national colours in a design similar to the national flag.

Harris' son, Devon Harris, has led the band for 11 years in San Fernando.

Merlyn Harris said, “I did not think we need any kind of permission for this. It is not the exact design of the national flag. People are selling bandanas and jerseys all over the place looking like the national flag, did they get permission?”

Harris said she was seeking legal advice on the issue. And should there be any breach in the laws regarding the use of national emblems, the design would be adjusted, she said.

Harris said the band had grown into one of the biggest J'ouvert bands in San Fernando. And she was convinced that persons were attempting to discredit the band on social media.

“We were expecting the hatred but not so soon after the band launch. The pictured were posted at midnight and by 8am there were complaints about the design. This is a direct attack on the band. It has nothing to do with the national flag,” she said.

Harris said the costumes were made from spandex and sequins. And although it appeared similar to the national flag, it was not the exact replica.

“Just as people wear the t-shirts of the national flag and paint their faces for football, we are bigging up Trinidad. We knew our colour was red and we wanted to represent Trinidad. We have to show where we from,” she said.

The Express was told that there was legislation governing the use of the national emblem. The National Security Minister has to give permission for the use of national emblems, following suggestions by the national emblems committee, the Express was told.

-carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com