by Kimberley Cummins
Lock them up!
This is the call from president of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders, Roger Millar, to all those individuals who invade mas bands on Grand Kadooment Day. In an interview with Bajan Vibes he said Barbados’ “free culture” is fuelling this whole thing and he needed the help of the Royal Barbados Police Force to assist them on this end.
Millar said the force could assist them by enforcing the law which states that coming in a band without permission is an illegal act.
“It is just on the books serving no purpose. The police do a good job at what they do but there has not been a single arrest unless there is violence… no one has ever been arrested for infiltrating bands. They should be arrested and brought before the courts to teach them that it is not cool to jump into bands,” he said.
“Get a paddy wagon or holding cell on the road and arrest them when the crime is committed even if we only keep them for the day. In Trinidad they don’t have ropes in bands but you would never see anyone attempting to jump into a band because there is a culture of masquerading. We need to get to that level. You would hear a man say ‘I jumping tomorrow’, ask he what band he jumping with- no one.
We need to direct the culture in the direction it should go.
“We speak to the police and the only solution they have is taking the bands down the road as fast as they can– that is not the solution. It is a joke more can be done. I’ve said the festival has outgrown that road, our idea to alleviate the problem was an alternate route but they gave us a short cut. That secondary route would offer relief because so many people are one that one route, and it would also be better able to police,”said Millar.
Also requesting greater police assistance was veteran band leader Gwyneth Squires. She told Bajan Vibes that in her 27 years in the industry, last year was her worst with reference to security. She said she had tremendous problems with people dressed in school uniforms intruding her band and was almost assaulted when she tried to prevent them from doing so.
Squires stressed the issue was not unique to her band and suggested that at least three police vans be stationed on the route; one at Combermere School on Waterford, one in Eagle Hall and another by Eastmond Corner, to reprimand the culprits when they carry out these acts.
“If you don’t have the police vans, bring a prison van. As soon as you get to Combermere they invade you – Oh lawd they bombard the band, there is where you get all the jamming,” she lamented
“We have security yes, but it does be so many of them. When the security put them out they come back in and they want to fight. What we are asking for is proper security in the band– the task force and the [Barbados Defence Force]. They aren’t gonna give us to walk on the route, they only put them on the road and when you put them on the road the people still are not going to take heed. If the defence force was in the bands you wouldn’t see nobody in the bands because they frighten for the boots.”
The 17 time Designer of the Year awardee further said she had already began prepping her security and encouraged other band leaders to do the same. She added she thought all the bands should have tight security on the road because if they did not many revellers would not return to play mas.
“It has caused fall out, not only in my band, but a lot of the bands… because people are saying they pay for a costume and they should be able to enjoy themselves. Why people who don’t pay for a costume comes in the band and make you miserable?
I think it is over bearing right now… band members are not comfortable.My band members will be comfortable, they can expect increased tight security and they will be safer,” she said. firstname.lastname@example.org