Thousands heeded the call of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to march from Woodford Square to deliver a petition to President's House yesterday.
From 1 p.m., people of different ages and political affiliations gathered in Woodford Square in Port of Spain, armed with placards, flags, umbrellas and drums, anxious to take to the streets.
As the crowd awaited Rowley's arrival at the square, several members of the public could be heard voicing concern over controversial Section 34 and what was happening to the country.
The people, who said they came from as far as Point Fortin and San Fernando, spilled out of the square and onto the streets in a sea of red.
One elderly woman, who said she was from Laventille, stood in the middle of the road, in front of the Hall of Justice, held her stomach and cried out: "Meh country going down, meh country going down."
Questioned as to why she took part in the march, she said: "I don't usually take part in these things, but I can't sit down and watch what happening to my country. They can't make law for one man because he have money and different law for poor people."
The march, for which police permission was granted yesterday morning, began after the National Anthem was sung at the intersection of Abercromby and Knox Streets. This done, drums were played, bells rang out and horns blared, accompanied by the chant of "We shall overcome..."
Employees at the Ministry of National Security and several other Government offices came out and looked on as the people marched by. Scores of people lined the streets, waiting to join the march which stopped at every intersection to allow the members of the Kenny Cyrus Shrine of Enterprise Village, Chaguanas, to pay homage to Esu, their mediator, for justice and balance.
Within 45 minutes of leaving Woodford Square, the crowd, which had grown larger and was estimated by police to number somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000, had hit the Queen's Park Savannah, causing traffic to come to a standstill.
As the people marched past the uniformed police who barricaded the front of the US Embassy on Marli Street, they chanted over and over: "Take Ish and go, take Ish and go..."
As the march neared Queen's Royal College, there was no end to the long line of people who stretched all the way back to the corner just after Sagicor.
A Congress of the People member, who was asked why he chose to take part, said: "I came out here today because I happen to be a citizen of this country who is not stupid and I want to remind the Government, who seems to think that everybody foolish, that I am not."
Another woman and her daughter said they were there because they were standing up for their rights and against Section 34 and all the other alleged corrupt activities of the Government.
Once in front of President's House, the people lined the opposite side of the street, not to be deterred by the downpour of rain that eventually came. They stood, some of them under umbrellas, others without, braving the rains, shouting and chanting: "The AG must go." A few of them even defied both the mounted police and the task force officers who instructed them to stay out of the entrance to President's House when Rowley crossed over to deliver the petition to the acting president.
Police officers were forced to get tough as they attempted to clear the driveway, and a call was heard to bring out the batons.
The people waited as Rowley entered the compound accompanied by Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah, Bankers Insurance and General Workers' Union head Vincent Cabrera, People's National Movement chairman Franklin Khan and deputy chairman Camille Robinson-Regis.
Close to 45 minutes later, the group, led by Rowley, emerged from the compound of President's House and onto the grass of the Savannah, where Rowley addressed a slightly smaller crowd.
• See Pages 4 & 5.
WHAT THE PETITION SAID
(1) On the 8th day of November, 2011 Mr Justice Boodoosingh quashed an attempt by the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago to extradite two self-confessed financiers of the United National Congress after an extradition request had properly been made by the United States of America in this regard.
(2) On that day the Attorney General refused against advice from his British Queen's counsel to appeal the decision of the judge.
(3) On the 11th day of November, 2011 the Government promptly laid in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago a Bill entitled The Administration of Justice Bill 2011.
(4) On the 9th day of December, 2011 the Bill was passed with support from the Opposition People's National Movement only after assurances were given that certain conditions, including the enactment of Criminal Proceedings Rules, would be laid and debated before the said Administration of Justice Act was proclaimed by his Excellency the President. There was never any expectation on the part of the Parliament that there would be any partial proclamation of any part of this Act, in fact, this or similar development was expressly forbidden by way of assurances obtained from the Government.
(5) On the 28th day of August, 2012 a very limited section of the said Administration of Justice Act, the Amnesty section, was proclaimed by your Excellency the President after purportedly being ordered by the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago through the Attorney General to proclaim the said Act.
(6) At the time the Act was proclaimed none of the assurances given in the Parliament to await the laying of rules had been met.
(7) At the time the Act was proclaimed the Minister of Justice, who had portfolio responsibility for the Cabinet Note that the Attorney General promptly acted upon, enjoyed and continues to enjoy a close relationship with at least one of the beneficiaries of the amnesty contained in the Act.
(8) The Government of the United States of America has expressed its concern and displeasure at the developments set out above which will have the effect, whatever the Parliament has done now, to free certain individuals wanted by the Government of the United States.
(9) Other regional states, notably Jamaica, have suffered gravely from extradition requests which have not been honoured in good faith as recently as two years ago.
Now be it resolved:
(a) That His Excellency the President raise as a matter of urgency with the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago as part of his constitutionally-required consultations with the Prime Minister the outrage of the National Community in this matter.
(b) That His Excellency demand an explanation from the Hon. Prime Minister as to the reason/s for the decision of the Cabinet which acted in breach of the trust of the Parliament.
(c) That His Excellency the President request the Prime Minister to let him have a written demand to revoke the appointments of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago immediately so as to avoid further national distress and international opprobrium in this matter.
AND WE YOUR PETITIONERS DO HUMBLY PRAY.