Police yesterday announced a zero-tolerance policy towards unlawful marches, after ranks fired rubber bullets at protestors who were ordered to disperse after they failed to get permission to march in the city.
“…No unlawful march, procession or meeting will be tolerated and [the police] will deal firmly with any person or persons wishing to breach the peace and disobey the laws,” police said in a statement, hours after the incident.
In a bid to clarify the actions of ranks which resulted in at least seven persons being wounded when police opened fire, police noted that it informed attorney James Bond, who it said heads the organisation responsible for the march, that no permission was granted for the activity.
In a statement, police explained that around 9am, a crowd of persons gathered at the Square of the Revolution to be part of a march organized by the Youth Coalition For Transformation, which it described as the youth arm of opposition coalition APNU. On Monday, the youth group said it will be marching as part of a peaceful protest against the PPP/C, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC).
Police said the group had previously applied for permission to use a noisy instrument at the Square of the Revolution on the 4th and 5th of December, 2011, with timings, and on Monday at about 1450 hours it applied for a “Youth March for Change” around the city. However no date or time was stated.
The group later informed the police that they wanted to march from yesterday, but police said that this was in breach of the statutory 48 hours notice required and as a result no permission was granted to the organization.
The persons gathered at the Square of the Revolution were warned that they should disperse as no permission had been granted for any march, police said.
“Subsequently a group of persons headed by retired Brigadier Edward Collins was seen formed up on Brickdam facing west and, despite being warned, about 300 persons marched off west along Brickdam,” the statement said, adding that the police then engaged them and they turned into Winter Place and then moved along Hadfield Street and continued despite being warned again and the police fired rubber bullets at them.
Another section of the crowd turned north into Winter Place and several persons were arrested.
According to the police, a number of persons sustained minor cuts and bruises.
Shortly after, at about 10:55, another crowd was seen going east along Duncan Street headed by Collins and Bond, who appeared to have sustained injuries from the earlier engagement with the police. They were arrested.
A senior police officer in clarifying Collins’ move from Hadfield Street to Duncan Street explained that after the first confrontation, he along with other protestors left and were heading back to Congress Place, Sophia when police confronted them.
The release noted that all the arrested persons were taken to the Brickdam Police Station from where those persons who were injured were escorted for medical treatment.
Up to mid afternoon yesterday, ranks were still patrolling the city streets to ensure that there were no more unauthorised marches.