THE NEW TODAY is urging Grenadians to pay particular attention to the front-page article in this week’s issue of our e-paper which points in the direction of the “illegal use” of the para-military arms of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) by those commanders on Fort George.
This is serious business as the information is coming from inside the force itself which gives a clear indication that all is not well within that law enforcement agency.
Police Commissioner Edvin Martin is already under the microscope for the manner in which the Police Force is being selectively used against some persons in the country who apply for permission to stage activities in this Covid-19 period.
The former Leader of the Opposition, Michael Baptiste has complained of being turned down to engage in Karaoke events while operatives of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell are allowed to do the same thing all over St. Andrew.
A few days ago, a prominent figure with the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) came public and spoke out with passion about the manner in which persons associated with the NNP are allowed to stage events at its party’s offices without regards to Social Distancing at village shops with no intervention from the police force.
There is this perception in the country that under Martin’s leadership of RGPF, the police are turning a blind eye to NNP operatives and their activities but quick to clamp down on others especially known opponents of the government.
THE NEW TODAY will always speak up and against double standards by the police when the evidence is clear that the outfit is engaged in “selective” treatment of nationals.
We have contacted people with knowledge of military affairs and the conclusion is that the paramilitary arms of the police force such as the Special Services Unit (SSU) and the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) should only be deployed as a last resort to deal with serious issues of national security threats.
The SSU was set up under the influence of the United States shortly after the demise of the 1979-83 People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of slain Prime Minister Maurice Bishop after the bloody military coup involving General Hudson Austin and others in the so-called Revolutionary Military Council (RMC).
The People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) was disbanded and a group of men were brought together under the SSU banner in order to put down any future insurrection against the State by radical groups thinking of creating problems including attempts to seize power by the use of force.
The type of training exposed to members of the SSU is vastly different from a regular member of the police force as those paramilitary men and women will mostly likely shoot and kill first and then ask questions.
There was no insurrection or threat to the national security of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique by the peaceful march of the teachers who had a just cause to let their voices be heard after the Keith Mitchell-led government reneged on the agreement signed for the 4% salary increase to take effect from the end of January.
Persons with an understanding of the operation of the military assured us that in a situation where there is peaceful protest, the SSU and RRU should be placed in a containment area and outside of the full view of the public in order to be on standby in case a situation arose that needed them to be deployed for the good of the state.
However, the High Command of RGPF acted illegally to have these para-military sections of the force on full display last Friday for all and sundry to see them in action.
Why was this done? Was it to send a message to the protestors and the rest of the country? Was the High Command seeking to provoke a confrontation and then unleash the para-military to quash the anti-government protest march once and for all?
No one should forget the message of Commissioner Edvin Martin in the current situation that “swift and decisive” action will be taken by the police force against anyone who violated Covid-19 protocols such as social Distancing.
This use of the para-military by those in charge of Fort George gives a reminder to an event just over 40 years ago on Union Island that is controlled by St. Vincent & The Grenadines when late Barbados Prime Minister Tom Adams sent in his army to deal with an insurrection against the government there.
By the time the Barbados army arrived on the scene the so-called rebellion was over and calm had returned to the tiny island.
This prompted Calypsonian, The Mighty Gabby to pen a tune about “Boots and More Boots” in which he said that PM Adams sent the troops to quell a non-existent rebellion.
THE NEW TODAY is stating that Commissioner Martin, and the other Commanders – Frank Redhead, Michael Francois, and Jessmon Prince – dispatched the RGPF para-military arm of the force to deal with teachers in a situation in which there was no insurrection and threat to the national security of the State.
It should be noted that both Martin and Prince came from a background of being members of the SSU and understand the show of force to create fear and panic among the people.
But while the RGPF High Command is engaged in such an “illegal” operation against a peaceful protest to intimidate teachers, their boss who is the Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Mitchell has already distanced himself from some of their activities.
Commissioner Martin, please take note and do not engage in anything that is questionable that might become part of your lasting legacy against the Working Class people in the country.
Former Police Commissioner Fitzroy Bedeau was “thrown under the bus” by the same Prime Minister after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 even though many in the police force knew that he was reluctant to make critical decisions on important issues without getting the approval from the powerful one in the Botanical Gardens.
Former Commissioner Winston James also admitted publicly that the then head of Special Branch, Anthony DeGale who was always seen as part of the Prime Minister’s personal security detail did not report to him as head of the police force but to someone else.
Our message to the Police High Command is please remember when a Commission of Inquiry is called to look into certain things in the country, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet of Ministers will not be called to the Witness Stand to give evidence and to be asked pertinent question but it will be the public officers that will be held accountable.