Mayor Junia Regrello found himself in an angry confrontation with police as they tried to shut down carnival celebrations in San Fernando prematurely on Tuesday night, in the middle of a steel band’s performance at a competition venue on Coffee Street, without explanation.
It was in keeping with what the police have done in San Fernando for almost a decade, shutting down the carnival at 10 pm.
“Who has the authority to adjust the time of Carnival when the Proclamation from the President of the Republic says it is from 4 am on Monday to midnight on Tuesday?
“Who has the authority? I need to know how that is done,” Mayor Regrello asked calmly during a brief interview on Wednesday morning, while explaining that while he does not want to undermine the police he will ask the Legal Department to investigate how and why they can happen.
“If I was not the Mayor, I would have been arrested,” he said explaining that “at one point a Constable had his hand on my shoulder as I kept asking him on what basis they were shutting down the carnival."
"There were three bands left to play at the competition venue when the police moved in."
“They had given us the assurance at several meetings, up to Friday last, that they were not going to stop the carnival as they would have done in the past nine or ten years,” he said.
“If they had information that something was amiss, they could have said so,” Regrello said.
Eventually a Senior Superintendent stepped in and informed the Mayor there was a stabbing on Cipero Street.
“You cannot shut down the entire city for that. The pan competition is of no threat to anybody.This requires some reasonable thinking” he said.
“I stood up on behalf of the people who have been complaining every year, including the vendors. And that is a sensitive matter. There are also vendors who make an investment for a particular period. And then there’s the Southern Marines Steelband with children who are seven and eight years old to play in the competition."
“ San Fernando had a good year with the steel band, we won the Small Bands Panorama (Golden Hands), the Medium Bands(Pan Elders) and had a very good showing in large bands, with Skiffle placing second."
"It was a nice feeling and there were pan lovers and a mature crowd with a nice feeling and the police just came, disrespectfully, to shut us down?"he asked incredulously.
Insisting that he has a good working relationship with the police, Regrello explained that when the Assistant Superintendent came to the scene, the matter was settled and the bands were allowed to play in the competition in which the steelbands played a calypso, other than their Panorama tune of choice, to be eligible for a prize.
“If there was information on something, they should have let us know and we would have understood."
“I have also been hearing how tired the police were and how they were short of manpower and frustrated."
“But the proclamation says Carnival ends at midnight and they have been shutting down the city for the past ten years, to the disadvantage of the steelband."
"The DJs had their way for two days. It was the steel band competition on Tuesday night and they showed no respect,” he said.
(Photos taken from video footage by photo journalist, Trevor Watson)
MAYOR REGRELLO AND POLICE TIFF OVER TIME,,,POSTED FEBRUARY 14 2018
Who rules our country?
Chuppidees rule. And there are lots of them about, all over the world. Not just Trinidad. My normal adjective to describe this kind, I call them drivel-heads. Their mental capacity is such that they can only think of the first thing that comes to mind. Unable to think 3 or 4 steps ahead.
Wow Thats serious!
This reminds me of a situation a few years ago while jumping up with Phase 2 in Woodbrook. The band left the yard around 10:30 pm and headed towards Roxy roundabout. They were goin to take part in the Tuesday night competition on Serpentine Rd., opposite Harvard's Sports Club. Heading west along Western Main Rd they turned around at Long Circular Rd and retraced their path to the competition judging point. It was just before midnight when they started playing. Seeing that it was after midnight when they finished I wondered if they would push the pans to Western Main Rd and go home. Instead they continued up Serpentine Rd/ Hayes Street and swung into Elizabeth St heading to Tragarete Rd. It was well past midnight as we passed the Oval. Swinging onto Tragarete Rd, there were Police Officers in front of Invaders Pan yard. Invaders were already inside. There was some conversation between the flagman and the Police in front of Invaders Pan yard and he started walking back towards the tractor pulling the main rack. The band continued playing as the rack approached the Police. The flagman spoke to the players on the rack but they continued playing. I saw a policeman/Regiment officer (there were joint patrols) coming from the rear of the band with rifle in hand. He climbed on the rack and discharged his weapon, "PAW", shouting, "Ah tell yuh all to stop". EVERYTHING STOPPED, and the players started arguing with the officer that they had permission to beat going home. The officer went to the back of the band where he told a senior officer what transpired. The senior officer went to the police car which was following the band. The Regiment Officer seated in the front passenger seat spoke with him and confirmed that he had given permission for them to beat going home. The officer on foot said "Ah hope yuh know what yuh doing". The band resumed playing heading to the panyard. On arrival at the panyard the Regiment officer who was seated in the Police car spoke saying " You have to know how to deal with a crowd". So true!
Nice story, Lennox Morris!!! Ah love to read CALYPSO and STEELBAND stories!!!