Heavily armed police officers and barricaded streets greeted environmental activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh as he attempted to resume day 12 of his hunger strike outside the Prime Minister's office in St Clair yesterday.
From as early as 7.30 a.m, police officers set up barricades along the Prime Minister's office, closing off Gray Street from St Clair Avenue to Sweet Briar Road. The human police barricade barred Kublalsingh as he attempted to walk into the Prime Minister's office, but they allowed him to dictate a short note that was eventually delivered to the office. In the note, Kublalsingh reminded the Prime Minister that "the people are waiting for a response" on the highway re-route issue.
One police officer, responding to questions from the media, said they were there to "ensure that no law was broken" and to "protect the Prime Minister" but also said they were instructed to not allow any "gathering".
When Kublalsingh eventually arrived at 11.20 a.m. police moved to his group, which included brother Hayden, Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) leader Ancel Roget and Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah, and informed them that he would not be allowed to even sit on the pavement in front the office. Though no barricades were installed on some parts of the pavement, members of the media and the public were told that they could not use the pavement.
When the group gathered in the street, police removed the barricades and no entry signs and once again allowed vehicular traffic onto that portion of Gray Street. Kublalsingh's group was then told they had to move as they were blocking traffic.
Police seemed unclear of the final instructions as they originally said no one was allowed on the pavement, then no one was allowed even on the half of the road near the Prime Minister's office.
"If you are over the white line, I will have to remove you," one Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) officer repeated as he walked along the group.
When asked why the new and changing rules, one police man said, "when you give people an inch they want to take a yard".
Even the ambulance that brought Kublalsingh was ordered to be removed from St Clair Avenue, when told that it was needed nearby in case of an emergency.
The police had different ideas on what to do with the ambulance.
"Park it here," one said.
"Move it from here," another said.
Public Information Officer of the Police Service, Sgt Wayne Mystar, yesterday visited the officers and said the heavy police presence was "basically to preserve order".
Mystar said the pavements were blocked because the police expected a large crowd to gather.
"So, as a result of that the police were taking the necessary precautions," he said.
When asked if the pavements were a public space, Mystar signalled that the media interviews were over and walked away behind the row of GEB officers.
Despite the confusion and the new and changing rules, a chair was brought and a fatigued Kublalsingh sat near the middle of the road, facing the Prime Minister's office. As the day progressed Kublalsingh stretched his legs onto another chair and eventually a gurney was removed from the ambulance for him. He remained motionless, being patted with wet cloths for most of the day.
He said he would be back today to continue day 13 of the hunger strike.