Three police officers including an Inspector of Police were left nursing injuries as the River Sallee Saraka spiritual ritual in St. Patrick East turned into violence on Friday night going into the wee hours of Saturday.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the injured officers were Inspector Rodney, as well as Corporal #336 Moses and Police Constable #409 Lalite.
The organisers of the event reportedly decided to go ahead with the Saraka despite the lack of official permission from the authorities, as Grenada is under a limited State of Emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Several of the persons seen at the Saraka were not wearing masks.There was also no social distancing of persons as required by health protocols in the fight against Covid-19.
Two weeks ago, Commissioner of Police, Edvin Martin warned that the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) would move “swift and decisively” against teachers for allegedly violating social distancing regulations in their street protests against government for their 4% increases in wages.
According to a police insider, members of the Security Forces on duty were trying to disperse the large crowd just after midnight, when the 4-hour nightly curfew was due to start, when things got out of control.
He said that around 12.30 a.m., the main event at the Saraka was shut down and police officers proceeded to the River Sallee junction where there were crowds of people gathered.
He said that the police officers observed a crowd of about 150 persons standing in front of Yankee Boy Shop and the lawmen including members of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) proceeded to ask the people to leave and go home.
The police insider told THE NEW TODAY that the crowd became disorderly and threw bottles in the direction of the lawmen with one bottle hitting Cpl. #336 Moses in the head and that he sustained a laceration which started to bleed.
He said that another bottle that was hurled from the crowd struck PC #409 Lalite on his neck and shoulder.
The police officer said: “Many more bottles were thrown. Officers withdrew and took evasive action. In the process PC #409 Lalite discharged two shots from his service revolver in the air to secure himself and other officers”.
Both Cpl. Moses and PC Lalite were taken by their colleagues to seek medical attention at the Princess Alice Hospital in Mirabeau, St. Andrew’s.
During the disturbance, Insp. Rodney received a blow to his left foot which was swollen and left him in pain.
According to the police insider, a large number of persons continued to defy the police order to disperse and officers had to request reinforcement from the SSU Camp at Pearls and the nearby Sauteurs Police Station.
He said that the unruly crowd then blocked the road with barrels, stones and logs in order to prevent the lawmen from coming into River Sallee and that an area of about 30ft in diameter was covered in broken bottles.
The police insider said: “Several warning shots were fired into the air to secure officer’s presence in the area and two loud explosions sounding like gunshots were heard”.
“As a result, officers retreated to safety without removing the road block since the stone that struck Inspector Rodney came from a large area of bushes adjacent to the roadblock”.
Speculation is rife that the gun shots were fired from the civilian population.
River Sallee is known as a garrison community under the control of the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who is also the Minister of National Security with responsibility for the Police.
River Sallee is a key village for the ruling New National Party (NNP) in the St Patrick East constituency which is represented in Parliament by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Pamela Moses.
Police are said to be investigating the River Sallee attack on the men in uniform.
Around the middle of last year when the country was under lockdown, police were forced to move in and arrest two NNP activists, including Seon Grant, in connection with the firing of several shots in the air from an illegal gun in the River Sallee area.
As the lawmen were being attacked in St Patrick East, there was an outburst of gunfire in the volatile 4-Roads area in the Town of St. George.
A senior police officer confirmed the incident but could not say whether elements in 4-Roads were celebrating the mob-like attack on the lawmen in the northern part of the country.
4-Roads, which is noted for drug peddling and other illegal acts like gambling, is one of the garrison areas in the town under the control of Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George, Agriculture Minister, Peter David.
Police are said to be investigating both the River Sallee and 4-Roads incidents.