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Youth movement to picket Parliament tomorrow

From left to right are Michelle Alexander, Joel Greenidge and Kassandra Alexander - the persons who are currently mobilising the youth to come out against the bill

We are not pleased with the fact that the AG is defending this bill. We think that he is insulting our intelligence and he is also insulting our rights.

A group of Grenadian young people are currently mobilising to picket Parliament tomorrow morning to press demands for the controversial coronavirus control bill to be totally withdrawn by the Keith Mitchell-led ruling New National Party (NNP) government.

A spokesperson for the group told THE NEW TODAY that the young people who are championing the cause are not happy with statements being made by Guyana-born Attorney General, Darshan Ramdhani that the bill which was withdrawn on Sunday amidst an uproar in the country will be reintroduced in Parliament after consultation with interest groups.

Ramdhani announced plans to engage the Grenada Bar Association and others to discuss the bill which has been met by stiff opposition by several sections of the Grenadian society due to some of its draconian measures contained in the legislation.

Among the disturbing sections pointed out by some people are the powers given to the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to enter homes without a search warrant, the power given to Immigration Officers to detain and confine persons suspected of having COVID-19.

The bill is also coming under fire for seeking to impose a fine of EC$25, 000.00 on persons found guilty of violating the legislation and a sentence of 1 year in prison.

According to Michelle Alexander, the position of the young people in Grenada is that Prime Minister Mitchell must totally withdraw the bill and never bring back the proposed legislation to the Houses of Parliament for passage into law.

Alexander is working closely with others like Joel Greenidge and Cassandra Alexander who are members of a Steering Committee of about ten persons currently advocating a number of issues affecting youths in the country.

She said the group has started to mobilise and was trying to raise funds at the moment to provide transportation for young people to assemble at the entrance of Mt. Wheldale early tomorrow morning to picket the sitting of Parliament.

She urged those persons heeding the call to wear Black as they join with other citizens who are planning to stage joint protest action at Mt. Wheldale in a show of support against the Bill and to send a message to the island’s Parliamentarians.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and a Group of Criminal defence lawyers on the island have also signaled their intention to take part in the protest.

Alexander attacked the current bill as “full of faults that doesn’t sit right with the people” and called for “a good representation” of youth persons at tomorrow’s event.

She said it is now clear to the young people that Ramdhani who has been appearing on local radio stations to defend the bill, “is not taking responsibility” for the introduction of the legislation, which is viewed in many quarters as an assault on the fundamental rights of Grenadians.

“We are not pleased with the fact that the AG is defending this bill. We think that he is insulting our intelligence and he is also insulting our rights. To me he is trying to justify and his justification (of the bill) at this point is worrying – it’s a little bit bothersome. They are taking us for granted,” she remarked.

Asked if the protestors will be calling for Ramdhani to be removed as Attorney General at tomorrow’s protest action, she said: “I won’t blame him (for the bill). I will blame who he is taking directives from – he is just doing what Simon (PM Mitchell) says.

‘I guess they (government ministers) get accustomed with doing what they want for so long that they think it’s a norm- but it’s not a norm. We have a Constitution and we should live by it,” she added.

Alexander acknowledged that the youth movement is gaining momentum and support across the island in recent days due to its stand on the bill but said “we are not getting cocky”.

“Yes, we appreciate the appreciation but we will continue to fight for the greater cause. The bill was not dismissed, it was withdrawn. If it wouldn’t be tabled on Wednesday we need to know when it will be tabled and we are calling for the withdrawal of the bill on a whole – just dismiss it, it doesn’t make sense.

Alexander and her group played a leading role in mobilising Grenadians to come out about a month ago in solidarity with a local man, Evan Smith who was beaten by a white couple in Fort Jeudy in an incident which left a bitter taste in an island that is predominantly occupied by blacks.

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