A day after The Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) blasted law enforcement for not stopping numbers bosses and their ‘Vote Yes’ supporters from marching down Bay Street, the police have fired back calling the exercise an expression of the citizens’ rights.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Hulan Hanna said that regardless of the high level of emotions from people in opposition to the referendum, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) fully respects the rights of individuals to express and support anything that is being discussed in a public forum.
“When persons were allowed to go on Bay Street, they were not allowed to go there to gamble. Persons were allowed to go on to Bay Street to . . . have a demonstration. Anyone who wants to protest in the streets of New Providence must first get permission from the commissioner of police,” he said.
Shortly after the Vote Yes supporters marched through the city centre on Wednesday, PR Coordinator for Save Our Bahamas Kevin Harris asked, “Who has been given the responsibility of being the commissioner of police?”
Mr. Hanna responded to the group.
“When the police allow for demonstrators to go on Bay Street in masses there is always that probability that persons would spill out into the roads and some would be there for longer than we wish. In environments that we are satisfied with our level of control of the situation, we would allow persons to express themselves and then clear the way,” he added.
According to ACP Hanna, there were no reports of incidents at any time during the demonstration and police had full control of the situation from the start straight down to the end.
When asked if the police were being told to stay away from web shop owners and their patrons, the assistant commissioner immediately declined and said, “Ellison Greenslade, Commissioner of Police has full control of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”
He said the police force is guided by the constitution and all statutes of this country.
“I want the members of the public to be convinced that this police force is led by the commissioner. That’s how we behave and that’s how we operate,” he said.
As far as Referendum Day is concerned, ACP Hanna claimed that the police presence will be just as great as it was for the 2012 General Election.
“Police will be working right around the clock. The same way we prepared for the elections is the same way we are preparing for this. And whatever the outcome, yes or no, we will be prepared and ready to carry out the instructions sent forth to us,” he said.