Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and other executive members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) were forced to scamper to safety grounds after a vehicle allegedly driven by a political activist of the ruling party threatened their lives at a public meeting at Snug Corner in St. George’s.
Addressing the media last week Thursday, Thomas, the Political Leader of Congress said he was forced to make a dash from the podium as he was addressing a party pocket meeting last week Wednesday night in the St. George North-east constituency.
The ex-prime minister told the media that for the first time in his political life he felt directly threatened when a vehicle driven by one Tyrone Thomas from Mt Parnassus allegedly attempted to run over the NDC leaders.
“I really felt intimidated … the vehicle reversed and kept coming,” said Thomas who called on the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to thoroughly investigate the incident.
“It could be a threat to our lives, I felt this vehicle wanted to drive through the head table,” he added.
The ex-Prime Minister and Minister of National Security visited the Traffic Department of the police force on Tuesday to make a formal statement on the incident.
During the press conference, Deputy Political Leader of Congress, Nazim Burke warned supporters of the party to take the incident seriously and do not take anything for granted in the current period.
Burke who lost the constituency in the February poll to Tobias Clement of the ruling New National Party (NNP) urged the NDC supporters to remain vigilant, and to assume the worst and to always protect themselves.
“Lives could have been lost that night including the driver’s”, he told the media.
THE NEW TODAY understand that scores of angry NDC supporters had to be retrained from attacking the driver of the vehicle.
Burke noted that the incident took place less than three minutes into the address to the gathering by the party’s Political Leader.
He said the vehicle headed directly for the head table where Executive members of Congress as well as their spouses sat and in fact stopped some 3 feet away Thomas, forcing him to jump out of the way.
According to Burke, what was alarming to them is that the driver made a second attempt to drive the vehicle towards the head table but was stopped due to the skidding of the tires.
The senior NDC executive member told reporters that the incident created “total pandemonium” as party supporters attempted to take justice into their own hands and had to be called upon to exercise restraint.
Burke said that he is forced to question the motives of the vehicle driver who is known in the area to be a supporter of the ruling party and described as a blatant lie a claim made by the man that he is a “friend” of him (Burke).
The ex-Finance Minister likened the incident to that of the era of the “Mongoose Gang” under the leadership of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy in the 1970’s and said that as the party continues its series of pocket meetings throughout the country, they would seek assistance and a presence from police officers to avoid any future incidents.
The deputy political leader called for an impartial investigation into the alleged incident from the police force as the people entrusted to serve and protect the population.
The call for vigilance among NDC party supporters was also echoed by executive member, Joseph Andall who said that while the incident might be viewed as an isolated incident it must be viewed within a political context.
Andall who was unsuccessful in the February poll in his attempt to win the St. Patrick West seat, looked back at several incidents, which occurred during NDC meetings in recent years.
He said the NDC seems to be targeted and made specific mention of one such incident, the popular “police spy case” incident in 2008 in which party members executed a citizen’s arrest of a junior police officer attached to the Special Branch, Kelon Noel after he was caught secretly recording their meeting on Lucas Street from an adjacent building.
The NDC also complained in May that police officers came and sat in a closed-door party meeting in Grand Anse with the sole purpose of spying and recording the proceedings.
Last month, the party also evicted from their General Council meeting a reporter attached to Caribupdate, the brainchild of a former ally, Hamlet Mark who is now a leading media consultant with the NNP administration.
According to Andall, such incidents clearly set a bad precedent and can be considered as dangerous for Grenada.
Andall called on all political parties in the country as well as civil society organisations and other groupings to strongly condemn that kind of behaviour.
Former Education Minister, Franka Alexis-Bernadine who also addressed the press conference said that a clear message must be sent out that the kind of behaviour as exhibited at the Snug Corner meeting must not be accepted.
Up to press time, it is not known whether the vehicle driver was taken into custody for questioning by the police in connection with the alleged incident.
However, in an interview with the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) the suspect denied the claims made against him by the NDC, saying that he was turning in the area as is the norm when the party supporters started beating his vehicle.
The man said that in an attempt to scare them off he simple revved-up his vehicle.