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December 2: In their own words

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Government MP Nandi Outerbridge tries to enter the grounds of Sessions House on the morning of December 2, 2016 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Deborah Brown, mother of OBA MP Nandi Outerbridge: “I saw the protesters standing in the front lines shoving Nandi in the chest with their hands and arms … They were shoving her and preventing her from walking through the crowd and towards the gate. Without even giving it a second thought, I rushed in and stood between my daughter and this hostile crowd to protect her. I shouted out to them: ‘Take your hands off my daughter and don’t touch her again, or else!’”

Detective Sergeant Kenton Trott: “Once the officers engaged the crowd, the crowd started to push back and not allow the police to make a pathway … While I was assisting the other officers to make a pathway, someone from the crowd grabbed my police jacket and began to pull me. Another individual grabbed me around my neck with their hands and began to squeeze my throat. I immediately used my hands to free myself from the person that was choking me and from the person grabbing my police jacket, in order to create a safe space between myself and them.”

Pc Dominique Simons: “I asked Pc MacNab, who trained me in the use of Captor, if I was authorised in this situation to use Captor and he said yes. Despite everything, I still hesitated. Then I saw to my left about 12 feet away a male use their right hand, place it inside Pc Aaron Dyer’s high visibility fluorescent vest and take hold of him. I feared for Pc Dyer’s safety but he was too far for me to get to because of the crowd and I knew the only way I could help was to Captor. I deployed my Captor in a short quick burst and hit the male on the right side of his face. The male immediately released Pc Dyer … Several members of the crowd identified me as one of the officers that deployed Captor and began pointing and shouting at me, threatening to kill me in various ways. They shouted that I was going to get shot, I was going to get beat up, I was going to get sprayed with Baygon and set on fire. I did not respond.”

Randy Horton, when he was Speaker of the House

Randy Horton, then Speaker of the House: “I can’t say exactly what time but it would have been around 1.15pm when I saw police officers with helmets on their heads marching in formation … I watched for about ten minutes as they made their way into the crowd. I saw scuffling between these two groups. It looked like people were pushing and shoving. I was stunned when I saw the police coming. I was appalled at the scuffling and shoving and I thought that someone was going to get hurt. It was then that I made the unilateral decision to not have a legislative sitting for the remainder of the day and that we should resume on the next Friday. I made this decision sometime around 1.30pm, I can’t remember exactly.”

A woman is stretchered into an ambulance at the December 2, 2016 protest (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Protester Dornielle Farrel: “I looked up and saw the riot police about ten feet away from me, facing towards the House of Assembly. I can’t say how many but there were a lot of yellow vests and helmets. I heard no warnings or verbal commands. It was like they were doing some kind of formation; they just came in at us and were pushing and pulling people away from the gate … One of the police officers must have kicked the gate open and then I saw a female bus driver backing up against the steps and the police officers tried to pull her out of the way and she fell back and landed on the ground with a resounding whack. She just laid there.”

Acting Chief Inspector Christopher Randall Clarke, Silver Commander: “I identified myself as a police officer to the crowd and told them words to the effect that they had a constitutional right to protest peacefully and lawfully; however, they could not block access to the HOA or prevent anyone from lawfully accessing the compound. The crowd started to shout back, stating that they will not move and they would not allow the members of Parliament to enter the House. I walked away and left the area.”

Pc Marina Jean-Pierre: “I kept shouting ‘stay back, and stand back’ but the crowd became more aggressive. I was pushed against the chest by a dark skinned, stocky male with a blue hood sweater, with his elbow. I then used my right palm to keep him back but was proved futile. He kept pushing me back. At this point, I grabbed hold of him and pulled him out of the crowd. The protesters kept pushing and shoving and refused to clear the gate … In the effort of trying to create that sterile area, I was in fear of my life, especially when I was faced with the angry crowd and not being fully protected.”

Detective Inspector Mark Clarke: “During my presence on Reid Street, there were several people being boisterous in their threats and conduct. Andre ‘Blacka’ Simmons and ‘Plukey’ Brangman were two who I can name. There were two other males who directly threatened me with the comments: ”We know where you stay. Your day is coming!’.”

Sergeant Darren Glasford: “I could see many males pushing officers back from the gate. I could see the officers attempting to detain certain males who started to resist violently, pushing and pulling away from the officers. At this time I was behind a row of officers when I saw a blue umbrella come over the top of the crowd and strike an officer in his helmet. I immediately drew my Captor incapacitant spray and pointed it at the male who was holding the umbrella. He was being pulled back by the crowd at this time so I did not deploy my Captor … I noticed two officers attempting to detain a male who was resisting violently. I drew my Captor and sprayed the male directly in his face in hope that he would stop resisting and be able to be detained.”

Pc Daniel Cole: “I could see behind me that officers near the gate or in the Cabinet grounds were attempting to stop protest members pushing them against the wall and also climbing onto the Cabinet wall or gate. I could hear officers shouting ‘Get back’. I then noticed that members of the crowd were complaining that they had been pepper sprayed. I ushered anyone that was affected by Captor spray away from the area so that they weren’t injured and could seek help.”

Pc Litanya Smith: “I saw a person in a blue jacket and white baseball cap raise a blue umbrella and brought it down in a striking motion towards the officers. I could not see if any of them were hit but I heard a loud whacking sound. The officers started to advance towards the person but were prevented in doing so by other members of the crowd and I saw Minister Wayne Furbert intervene.”

Inspector Tracy Burgess: “Immediately the crowd began to lock arms and push towards us causing me to take a firm stance and brace against them, pushing back with open hands and instructing the crowd to get back. Despite the repeated appeals, the crowd continued to push towards us and I could feel numerous hands on me, about my arms, chest and abdomen. Afraid I would be assaulted, I continued to push away and with a loud voice instructed them to get back … I recognised several persons who were stood in front of me and the other officers, including several politicians and union representatives.”

Pc Terry Paynter: “As the Police Support Unit proceeded to attempt to clear the way on Parliament, the crowd was pushing and shoving, attempting to resist the PSU … I observed a man in a blue jacket, white cap and dark shades swing an umbrella and hit a PSU officer on the helmet. I also observed a heavy set dark skinned male inciting the crowd, telling them to stand their ground and saying ‘Where they go, we go’. PSU made their way around the corner to the southern gate of the grounds. I remained on Parliament Street with Inspector Clarke, who was the subject of much abuse from Mr Derrick Burgess, Dennis Lister and Walter Roban. Inspector Clarke made no reply to them.”

Chris Furbert, president of the BIU: “This is a tragedy. This was a peaceful protest. The police came down here and tried to push through this gate; manhandling people in a peaceful protest. They could not get through so they went around to the other gate where people were pepper sprayed, including seniors. The Premier and the Commissioner must be held accountable for what has happened today.“

Walter Roban, then deputy Opposition leader: “This is a sad day for the country. We have seen our democracy assaulted. I do not understand how this can happen in a democracy. People who were peacefully gathered as is their right have been treated like they have broken the law. I do not know who gave the orders but answers will have to be given. I was jostled and pushed as the police pushed forward and party members have been hurt. I asked senior police officers under what authority they were acting and they could not provide me with an answer.”

* Sources: May 2019 report of the parliamentary joint select committee and The Royal Gazette.