Political activist denied use of Woodford Square to hold anti-crime rally

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Political activist Victor Roberts speaks to his supporters at Woodford Square, Port of Spain on Saturday. – ROGER JACOB

POLITICAL activist Victor Roberts claims he was denied his constitutional right to assemble in Woodford Square, Port of Spain after a verbal agreement given to him, last Friday, to hold a meeting at the square was rescinded by the Port of Spain mayor.

Addressing a crowd who marched with him from the Aranjuez Savannah to Woodford Square, on Saturday, Roberts said he was given permission by the police to march and had provisional permission to have the meeting at the square but when he arrived he was denied.

“Last Friday, I returned to the corporation and the clerk, Ms Williams, said to me that the application is inside and she did not have any word as yet so hold on,” he said, adding that after two hours he was told “as far as she knows permission has been granted to utilise the square for the meeting.”

Roberts said the denial will be taken to court as he found it unconstitutional for him and others to be denied use of the square. He agreed to disperse the crowd telling them it would not be in good faith to host a march against criminality and then do something criminal.

Sunday Newsday contacted Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez who said no permission, as far as he was aware, was ever granted to Roberts.

“I got a call this afternoon (Saturday) indicating that they were given approval subject to the corporation’s approval. I made a check and no approval was given.”

Told that Roberts said verbal approval was given, Martinez said that could not happen asking who gave Roberts such misinformation. He added that he could not say why approval was denied to begin with as that was a matter for the council.

As he neared Woodford Square, Roberts lamented the number of people who marched with him. He said if one were to check Point Fortin Borough Day celebrations there would be thousands of people, likewise for the reggae concert Redemption, but for a march against crime and criminality, the turnout was sparse. He said it was a “sad reality.”