Grenadians from all strata of society and walks of life rallied to the call to occupy Camerhogne Park on Independence Day (Sunday, February 7th) as a show of support and solidarity to the “Save Camerhogne Park” Committee
Hundreds of locals converged on the park basking in the glorious weather to enjoy the day, as well as meet and greet relatives and friends, and sharing food and drinks with each other.
Coordinator of the “Save Camerhogne Park” campaign, Senator Raymond Roberts was grateful to the people who responded to the call.
Sen. Roberts also encouraged people to sign the petition that was launched one month ago to strengthen the committee’s call to have the park remain at its present location.
He said that to date over seven thousand signatures have been collected.
The committee is hoping that they will be able to have ten thousand signatures collected during the campaign.
The show of support on Independence Day was intended by the organisers to send a message to the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Mitchell that it should reconsider its plans of giving up Camerhogne Park which is in the vicinity of the world famous Grand Anse Beach to a developer to build a hotel.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that is giving support to the “Save Camerhogne Park” campaign believes Grenada’s sovereignty is at stake.
Political Leader of Congress, Senator Nazim Burke who addressed the gathering at the park said the people of Grenada would not surrender to the Mitchell Government.
Sen. Burke charged that government’s plan is to build a replacement park in the vicinity of the Roman Catholic Church in Grand Anse, St. George’s just before the next General Elections.
The Congress Leader who was joined by his Deputy Political Leader, Joseph Andall, Caretakers Franka Bernadine, Dr. George Vincent, Merle Byer, Cecilia Ann John, Sylvester Quarless, Randal Robinson, Adrian “Persuader” Thomas, and Phillip Alexander said if even with the lives of the people Camerhogne Park will be defended, adding that it is not a political issue, but one of national interest.
He admonished the people to treat that particular gathering as the beginning of the struggle to defend and save Camerhogne Park.
“We have to be prepared to defend our nation, we have to be prepared to defend our Camerhogne Park,” he said.
Former Director of Tourism, Jude Bernard indicated that there is no better day than Independence Day “to stand up for our country,” and to ensure that no one takes what belongs to the people.
“Independence Day is no better day for us to stand up for this park, and for this land,” Bernard said.
In his Independence Day address during the Military Parade at the Queen’s Park National Stadium, Prime Minister Mitchell said the day needs to be celebrated together, and no patriotic Grenadian should seek to celebrate separately “for calculated, political or other reasons.”
This was a clear and pointed reference to those who were encouraging nationals to gather in their thousands at Camerhogne Park on Independence Day to express their opposition to the prospect of losing the facility to a hotel developer.
Bernard called on the people to become patriotic by being prepared to defend Grenada.
“Let no one tell us that because we stand up for something like this, we are non-patriotic or we are political,” he said.
The former Director of Tourism indicated that he was part of the process of transforming the area where Camerhogne Park now lies.
He said it would hurt him terribly to have the park given up when there are many other parts of the country that are crying out for development.
“For anyone to think that they should take this away from us, it is unconscionable,” he told the crowd.
Prior to addressing the assembled gathering, Social Activist John Rullow told THE NEW TODAY newspaper he was at the Park as a Grenadian Citizen to defend the country’s patrimony with total nationalistic and patriotic pride.
Rullow said if the Mitchell administration fails to listen to the voices of the people, it would only be showing a lack of respect for the people of Grenada.
The Social Activist who had two placards strapped around him, one of which pointed to January 21st, 1973 recounted what had happened at La Sagesse Beach in St. David’s.
He said Lord Brownlow’s gate to keep people away from the beach was broken down by the people giving access to the beach.
That movement was led by the St. David’s-based Jewel organisation (NJM) which later joined with another progressive group to form the New Jewel Movement (NJM) under the leadership of Maurice Bishop.
It was the NJM that used forced of arms to remove the elected Eric Gairy government from power on March 13, 1979 in the first coup d’etat in the English-speaking Caribbean.
According to Rullow, the fact that the park is named Camerhogne shows its historic significance and that it has become a geographical area.
Rullow who is visually impaired spoke of the area being one of the best places in Grenada to train the visually impaired.
“This park shall remain the people’s patrimony always,” he said.
Businessman, Allan Bierzynski who was at the park with his family told this newspaper that being there was part of his Independence Day celebration as he was also at Queen’s Park earlier in the day for the official National Independence Day activities.
Although he was careful in his comments by stating he is not concerned if Camerhogne Park is given away, Bierzynski said, “as long as I have (it) here, while it is still available to us, I will enjoy it.”
A Disc Jockey and the “Jolly Boys” kept the people at the park entertained.