History always has a way of repeating itself.
This is very evident in the recent uptick of alleged acts of police brutality on the civilian population by some bad apples within the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
Two recent incidents stand out – the criminal assault on an individual by a member of the force resulting in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) giving the green light to the Commissioner of Police, Edvin Martin to take the matter to court.
The other incident which caused an uproar among Grenadians is the arrest of a security guard by a police officer who tried to enter a business premises without wearing a mask and was turned back because he was flouting the Covid-19 protocols that he was supposed to be enforcing himself.
There are many alleged instances of police brutality against civilians during the past year as RGPF was given too much of a free hand to run the country as the Political Directorate including the Prime Minister seemed unsure of themselves during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.
The situation would have become even more chaotic if the country did not show strong resentment nearly a year ago to the Martial Law type of legislation the regime was taking to Parliament and had to withdraw as it was seeking to give the police more power to curtail the fundamental rights of citizens as protected in the Grenada Constitution.
THE NEW TODAY is asking Grenadians to turn back the clock 48 years ago to the 1970’s when police brutality was the order of the day under the former Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) administration of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.
Scores of schoolboys were mauled by members of Gairy’s Mongoose Gang in those days when the talk of the town was “Black Power” which coincided with the birth of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) under late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and his colleague, Unison Whiteman.
Many young Grenadians are not followers of our history and are not aware that the current Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell was a foundation member of the NJM and joined the group after he failed to win the St. George North-west seat in the 1972 general elections.
Dr. Mitchell ran on a ticket of the conservative Grenada National Party (GNP) led by the late H.A Blaize and alongside him as fellow candidates were former Mobilisation Minister Selwyn Strachan (South St. George), Whiteman (St David) and former Scotiabank manager, Fitzroy O’Neale (St. George North-east).
The current Grenadian leader decided to leave GNP and join forces with the NJM that promoted on its platform the building of a just society and to eradicate police brutality in the country under the Gairy regime.
Today, the same Dr. Mitchell is in charge of the affairs of the country and is presiding over a government and system in which the ugly spectre of police brutality has raised its heads once again in the Spice Isle.
The lesson for all of us in Grenada is that Dr. Mitchell is no better than Gairy when it comes to acts of police brutality by elements under the control of the State.
THE NEW TODAY is not surprised at the turn of events given the opportunistic approach to governance by the so-called ‘Little Black Boy” from Happy Hill who is now accused of turning his back on the “Poor Man” in favour of the Money Class in the south of the island.
The Keith Mitchell/Police relationship took a turn for the worse when the Prime Minister openly stated that he did not trust the vast majority of police officers with his life and was forced to depend heavily on the small Security detail outfit that guarded him day and night and gave them a handsome financial compensation package.
There was disquiet in the police force with this rejection in light of the fact that most members of RGPF are suspected to be strong supporters of the ruling party and its leader.
In the face of disquiet in the force, this opportunistic Prime Minister was able to cleverly use Covid-19 to mend fences with police officers by giving them full reign to take charge of the situation in the country once again and with some of them running amuck.
It was not uncommon to hear large sections of the population complaining of police brutality and strong arm tactics by some of the men in uniform to deal with them during the lockdown of the country from the virus.
What is different today with back then in the 1970’s is the presence of Social Media to capture the images and send them around the world with the visible evidence of actual police brutality being on showcase in Grenada.
There can be no denying that some police officers are taking the law into their own hands and are now seen as law-breakers as opposed to carrying out their lawful duties of ensuring that the law is not broken by those who are tempted to engage in acts of wrongdoing.
The reality is that police brutality, whether directed at political opponents or some other elements in the society, is still police brutality in line with the well-known phrase – “A rose by any other name is still a rose”.
Prime Minister Mitchell must be uncomfortable with the fact that 48 years ago in 1972 he joined the NJM to fight the Gairy regime on the issue of police brutality and in 2021 he is running a country in which the same thing is happening under his watch.
As one calypsonian said in a song a few years ago, if a dog plays with tick then it will eventually stick on it.
The current Prime Minister has been sowing the seeds of destruction by playing political games with RGPF so that today as one senior police officer commented that the acts of brutality against civilians by some elements of the force are just a mirror and reflection of the general breakdown of law and order in the wider society after 25 years of rule by Dr. Mitchell.
How can some people who have fought police brutality over the years continue to be part of the Mitchell regime?