“MORE than warranted” is how acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob has described the firing of tear gas to disperse a crowd of approximately 300 protesters at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Sunday.
Jacob said last evening that tear gas is used when people fail to comply with lawful direction and instructions by the police.
“We have a use of force policy. Where we go from one level to another. The officer reached such level and three canisters were used to disperse the crowd. The action by the officers was more than warranted, especially since no permission was given for such march to take place,” Jacob said.
Jacob said from what was reported to him the crowd refused to disperse and some started pelting bottles at the police and that is when the tear gas was fired.
“The police followed standard operating procedure yesterday and I have confidence that the officers utilised the use of force policy,” he said.
He said he understood that while people may have opposing views, the reason groups needed permission to protest was to ensure there were no clashes with other groups.
He said the Guard and Emergency Branch is one of the most professional sections of the Police Service and because of training the commander in charge would have evaluated the situation and used discretion as necessary.
Some civil society groups took to social media yesterday to criticise the Police Service for its use of excessive force, saying the matter should have been handled differently.
From 10 a.m. on Sunday the crowd, among them anti-vaxxers, gathered at Queen’s Park South opposite the BP Trinidad and Tobago.
As the crowd grew about 20 police officers were present monitoring their movement.
A mobile detention unit was parked nearby. Two senior officers said they were there to “keep the peace”.
The majority of the crowd then marched around the Savannah shouting their suspicions about Covid-19 vaccines and at passing motorists telling them to resist the Government’s continued vaccine rollout, which they described as oppression.
Teargas more than warranted Trinidad & Tobago Express Newspapers