Bitter protests observed in New Providence on Tuesday
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said yesterday that while police will continue to respond appropriately to episodes of civil unrest amid increased restrictions to mitigate against the coronavirus, he encouraged Bahamians to comply and understand the need for the measures.
“I say to the Bahamian people we are a nation where we follow laws and I just encourage everybody to abide by the laws. This pandemic is not only for the police.
“This is for everybody. This is the message we have been giving here today — to wear your mask, practice social distancing. That’s what I want to say to every resident, every citizen here in The Bahamas today. We have to do our part to make sure that everybody is safe.”
Asked whether he was concerned about increased levels of civil unrest in response to future lockdowns, the commissioner said: “You know, I have a judiciary duty to be concerned about civil unrest no matter where and when, and whenever and wherever, we have a duty of care to make sure that the people are safe. I’ll leave that there.”
A day after the immediate lockdown was announced by the prime minister, there were bitter protests among dozens of people who gathered near Windsor Park on East Street.
Plans to march onto Bay Street in protest of the lockdown was derailed after officers arrested 39 people, including several organizers, sparking Windsor Lane residents to descend onto the streets to voice their frustration.
Many who spoke to Eyewitness News decried the lack of time to prepare.
The emotive standoff between officers and residents of the area led to several more arrests after a man threw several glass bottles at passing police buses.
Rolle and scores of officers delivered bottled water and PPEs (personal protective gear), namely masks, to residents of Windsor Lane and other communities yesterday.
Many residents expressed gratitude but said they were still facing dire straits.
But there were others who dismissed the exercise as “too little too late”.
Windsor Lane resident Henry Wright, who said he has been struggling to make a living since the onset of the pandemic, said: “No. We ain’ appreciate that at all. I mean, I could [only] speak for myself. We don’t need water. We need food. They done don’t want give us our money and they talking about only water. We ain’t camels. We need food.”
Jamaine Henfield expressed a similar plight.
He said he has been unable to work since the onset of the border closure and lockdown measures. He said the masks and water did not address the many hungry families in the area who have young children looking to parents to feed them.
“We are barely making it through here, you know what I mean, so we just hope they could do more. We hope the government can do more.”
Others were more understanding despite their hardship.
Louvala Williams, 78, a retired gardener, said: “I put everything in the hand of God, so if you get God in you, he will protect you. The government is trying to protect these people and they don’t understand that. When they lockdown this thing, the block for everybody.”
As to his own supplies, Williams said he does not work, and it has not been easy getting by, but “I have something to eat”.
He continued: “God [will] take care of me.”
Acknowledging the police force was not directly responsible for distributing food and water, Henfield said: “That’s a start. We thankful for it. We [don’t] want to say we ain thankful for it, but they could do more.”
The government-funded National Food Distribution Task Force is responsible for food and voucher distributions in various zones.
At last report, there were close to 140,000 households in need of food assistance, according to program officials.
Rolle said the primary purpose of the visits yesterday was to reinforce the importance of residents adhering to the emergency orders and health guidelines.
He said the water distribution was to “keep you going”, recognizing the number of young children in the area.