National Security Minister Gary Griffith has said the appearance of officers in riot gear outside Parliament on Tuesday was not a major issue. He was responding to comments made by Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi. Al-Rawi said he was stunned by the way the
police had handled persons who were protesting the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014 outside the Parliament building, at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
Al-Rawi had said the appearance of police in riot gear outside Parliament was not a good sign for Trinidad and Tobago.
Al-Rawi said when he drove past the throngs of protesters on Wrightson Road, he was “staggered” to see police in full riot gear, which he said he had never seen happen in front Parliament before.
“This is a cause for great concern,” he told the media.
“We have had protests significantly larger than this before and there were no riot police. This is not New York (USA). The Prime Minister made a case that Trinidad and Tobago is different from the rest of the
world and there would not be instability or a
fallout,” Al-Rawi added.
“This bill is being met with the level of interaction that no other statement or political belief has before. I have never seen riot police in front the Parliament before, I am seeing it now,” Al-Rawi said But in response to these concerns, Griffith said the officers were called out to prevent any instances of violence. He said at times on Tuesday, there were persons blocking the roadway, preventing cars from flowing freely along Wrightson Road.
He said it was for this reason, the officers stepped into action.
“It is the right of the public to protest and voice their opinions, but they need to understand that they must adhere to the law,” he said.
“There is a difference between crowd control and excessive force and as far as I am aware, no excessive force was used.
“You see officers dressed like this in cricket matches. They are here to ensure law and order is maintained,” Griffith added.
He said had the police failed to show up in front Parliament, the result could have been extrem e violence.