Uninsured Police Officers called to protect Ousted Council of Ministers
PHILIPSBURG:--- Heavy equipment’s were used early Wednesday morning to block the entrance of the Government Administration Building. The drivers of three heavy equipment arrived in the area of the Government Administration Building shortly before 5am where they parked their vehicles blocking the entrance towards the Government Administration Building and left.
Around 6:30 am the night watch- commander Officer Gomes along with some police officers walked towards the Government Administration and began questioning bystanders and the security guards as to who parked the heavy equipment’s that were blocking the streets. It should be noted that when the heavy equipment’s arrived at the Government Administration Building the night watch commander and his officers were on duty some of whom saw when the vehicles parked up and the drivers left the area, yet they chose to wait until daylight to come outside to ask persons in the area who parked the vehicles in the middle of the road blocking the traffic in that immediate area.
The silent and peaceful protest was organized by citizens that are upset and even disgusted that the Council of Ministers who got a motion of no confidence but refused to make their positions available and are not respecting the country’s constitution. The protesters said they wanted to send a clear message to the Gumbs cabinet and to personally inform the Prime Minister that he ought to respect the country’s constitution.
During the early morning hours the gathering was rather small as most people did not know exactly when the protest would have started. As the day progressed some more persons joined the group of people that stood across the street from the government building waiting for the Prime Minister and other Ministers in order to personally inform them that they need to respect the country’s constitution and the governor of St. Maarten. Among those that gathered in front of the Government Administration Building is the Deputy Leader of the National Alliance and Member of Parliament Silveria Jacobs. MP Jacobs told SMN News that it is a sad day for St. Maarten when its people have to protest in order for democracy to prevail. She said the Gumbs cabinet got a motion of no confidence and they need to respect the laws of the country and the Governor of St. Maarten. MP Jacobs made clear that whatever deals or decisions taken by the ousted cabinet after September 30th 2015 each Minister will be held personally liable for their actions.
Member of Parliament Frans Richardson who also showed up to show his support to the protestors said that he is not at all disappointed in the amount of people that came out on Wednesday. He said as far he is concerned when one person protest it already give reason for them to stand by that person. MP Frans Richardson that those that came out are fed up with the group of rogue Ministers that are holding the country hostage.
Toddy Peterson, a former Police Officer said that the Gumbs cabinet should pack up and go home because they got a motion of no confidence, besides that he said the laws of the country (constitution) is clear and the Prime Minister and his cabinet ought to respect it. “What we are seeing today is a group of people that are trampling on the constitution, they are holding the country hostage, and they are insulting the integrity of the Governor of St. Maarten which is a very sad thing.” When asked what advice he has for the ousted Prime Minister, Peterson said that Gumbs should go home because no one voted for him in 2014. “Marcel Gumbs had his days in politics years ago and what he need to do is to respect and live up to the constitution and not trample on it, Be a person of respect because with his actions right now he is killing whatever he achieved as a politician when he was elected. What Gumbs is doing now will go down in history as a Prime Minister who trampled on his country’s constitution. As for the Minister Justice Dennis Richardson he should know better, he is the Minister of Justice and he should know much better, he should resign and go home allow the country to rebuild itself with a new government. Let’s give William Marlin a chance to govern the country we do not need one family to continue running the country.”
Peterson said that in 2013 when the Government fell through ship jumping the National Alliance led government left and he believes that this time the UPP led government should pack up and go home and give the leader of the National Alliance a chance to lead the country.
Another elderly citizen endorsed the statements made by Peterson she said since the Gumbs cabinet took office they did nothing for the people of St. Maarten and chance should be given to this new coalition. The elderly woman who is strong supporter of the Democratic Party especially its leader said that those in office does not want electoral reform. “When Marcel had to speak he did not. Why is this cabinet bringing St. Maarten down with them?”
Another protestor said that Gumbs should get out and allow this new coalition to do something for the country. “Since the Gumbs cabinet took office they have not done anything for the people and while I don’t expect the world from anyone I expect some changes. Ever since I am 15 years old I hearing them talking about change today I am 43 and still there is no change so I want to know if the change they are talking about will come when my children die.”
Priest a well-known taxi driver said that the Governor should send the police to remove the Gumbs cabinet. Priest said he believes that there is some game being played. He said whatever he said to Marcel Gumbs should be enforced. Priest said that as long as the people don’t react the right way then nothing will happen. He said he believes some sort of violence has to be used which he said is blocking the entire Philipsburg that will shake the economy.
Other protestors said no one voted for those that make up the Gumbs cabinet and now that they got a motion of no confidence they should get up and run.
Civil Servants ran out of building as protestors attempted to lock the front door of the Government Building with chain.
After hours of waiting in the hot sun for Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs and other Members of the Council of Ministers to come out of the building to address the people some of the protestors walked towards the door of the Government Building to place a heavy chain on the front door. The protestors said since the Gumbs cabinet do not want to leave the building then they should be locked inside of it. As the protestors approached the door head of security Tony Arnell pleaded with them to give him time to evacuate the building and to see if he could get the Prime Minister to come out and address them. As soon as Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs who sneaked into the building through the back door heard that the protestors were demanding that he get out of the building or they would place chains on the door he called on the police to rescue the Ministers that were in office, namely the Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, Minister Rita Bourne Gumbs and Minister Claret Connor. Minister of Finance Martin Hassink reported to work at 6:30am but when he saw the blockage he went inside the building grabbed his bag and left.
The police hurried over to the building to protect the ousted government while they themselves do not have basic insurance to protect their own lives.
SMN News asked some of the officers if they were not concerned about their own safety especially knowing that they do not have any insurance and not long ago they lost one of their colleagues in the line of duty. The officers said they were not the ones to answer the question but instead those questions should be posed to the Minister of Justice or the management team of KPSM.
SMN News contacted Chief of Police Peter de Witte who is currently off island for a comment on how it is possible for him to put his subordinates at risk knowing that they do not have insurance. De Witte said that the police management submitted an advice for insurance for police officers since 2012 and government namely the Minister of Justice did not act on it. De Witte said the Minister of Justice took responsibility for the lack of insurance for the officers of KPSM in Parliament and they have installed a committee to work on getting insurance for police officers, he further stated that the committee is supposed submit an advice to the Prime Minister within short.
As the protestors continue with their peaceful protest they made a second attempt to get Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs to speak with them this time having Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel leading them towards the building. As the protestors reached the door security guards grabbed the door and told MP Emmanuel that the building was closed and that they will call the Prime Minister. Again instead of addressing the people the Prime Minister called over police. Those in charge in the absence of the Chief Commissioner and Deputy Chief then rushed over to the building where they secured the building with a number of Police Officers. The senior officers that rushed over to the Government Building were Commissioner Denise Jacobs, Randolf Bloieman, Benjamin Gout and CPO Felix Richards along with some other Bavpolers.
While most of the officers went inside the building Richards remained outside and spoke to the protesters until he convinced the owner of the heavy equipment’s to remove his vehicles.
Those that protested on Wednesday said that the actions they took on Wednesday is just the beginning and they intend to continue the protest until the ousted Ministers leave office.