Police, marchers face off
KINGSTON — It should have been the usual symbolic re-enactment of the journey National Hero Paul Bogle took from Stony Gut to Morant Bay during the 1865 rebellion, but those who journeyed halfway across the island to St. Thomas last Thursday left feeling cheated.
More than halfway through the four-and-a-half mile trek, police halted the group of men, women and children in their tracks as they did not have the necessary permit to engage in a public gathering.
Tempers flared and persons loudly voiced their disappointment at not being able to honour their ancestor in this way, the first time in years, but the police were unrelenting as they maintained that the safety of the citizens would override tradition. However, what was shaping up to be a confrontation was quickly defused by two senior police personnel, under the watchful eyes of a number of armed cops.
Marching in single file
Leading the march was Constantine Bogle, who claims to be the great-great-grandson of the national hero and an elected councillor of the Yallahs Division. He had organised the all-night vigil in Stony Gut the night before, after which the group headed out in single file towards Morant Bay. They were joined by more persons as they got closer to the final destination in the town square where Bogle’s statue was once mounted.
“We were travelling in single file on one side of the road and the traffic was flowing freely and the police come and disrupt the peace,” complained one member of the group, who added that the event was not a demonstration, but a celebratory march.
Daisy Blackwood, who has been participating in the march for the last six years, said she left her home in Discovery Bay, St. Ann, for the occasion and felt cheated, as for the first time she could not accomplish that goal.
“I came all the way here to show appreciation for the forefathers and I don’t understand why we can’t complete the journey,” she said.