“law has been broken”: Dr Keith Rowley

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Rowley: Cops must act

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says he expected the police to probe the racist placards issue and found it strange Government Minister Dr Roo­dal Moonilal said the matter should not warrant police attention.

Rowley had called on the acting Com­missioner of Police to launch an investigation into persons who were holding up racist placards during the protest march against the Government last Friday in the capital city, organised by the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM).

Rowley said there was evidence to suggest these persons were planted in the march by the United National Congress (UNC).

Moonilal has dismissed this, saying the People’s National Movement (PNM) always campaigned on a racial divide, and the police should not have to be reading every placard to maintain law and order. This should be the responsibility of march organisers, he said.

The police have announced an investigation will take place and Supt Bal­ram has been appointed as the lead investigator.

“As far as I know, a law has been bro­ken; it is a very serious breach of the law as it is a law, we need to maintain stability and tolerance and prevent bigotry and racism,” said Rowley yesterday.

He said he expected the police to act on the matter.

“A proper and thorough investigation will lead to some very interesting people. I am very surprised at his (Moonilal) comments; a law has been broken and he is saying the police should not show interest in this matter?” said Rowley.

“A law has been broken and there are persons in the UNC who sought to make political capital from breach of the law,” he added.

He said surveillance videos can be obtained from the Parliament that can aid police in their investigations as persons bearing the racist placards were stationed outside the Par­liament with the supporters of
the UNC on the day of the march.

Political analyst Bishnu Ra­goonath told the Express the acting Police Commissioner should have launched this race probe without having Rowley call for it.

“The Police Commissioner is within his right to investigate if what was done was an attempt to create friction in society, and the role of the Commissioner of Police is to keep the peace; he is just doing what he has to do,” said Ragoonath.

He said further, the issue of race will be a predominant factor in campaigns in the lead-up to the general election next year.

“I think Trinidad and Tobago has unfortunately, within the last year or so, gone back in time about 20 years. In other words, race seems to be the pre­dominant issue as we get into the next general election,” said Ragoonath.
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