A battery of local lawyers is being assembled to take legal action against a local committee that focuses on the slave trade.
Attorneys Dr. Francis Alexis, QC and Anselm Clouden have come to the aid of fellow barrister-at-law, Jerry Edwin who was arrested by the police on April 28 following a confrontation with the Heritage committee at the River Antoine Estate.
Edwin’s arrest took place at an event in which the local committee was engaged in the re-enactment of slavery on the grounds of estate in St. Patrick.
He is claiming that his constitutional right was infringed upon and his attorneys are moving to the court to seek legal redress.
Speaking to reporters in St. George’s Dr. Alexis. QC said that he and Clouden will leave no stone unturned in seeing that justice is done in the matter.
He slammed the committee for the action taken against his legal colleague on the slavery issue.
He said “It tells you to the extent to which slavery can dehumanise even its own victims, and make them feel that they can relive an event like this. Which tourist is going to want to come and observe that?
That’s not tourism, that’s sadism. So we are going to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that justice is served,” he said.
Attorney Edwin has written a letter highlighting his disappointment in the decision taken by the committee to relive and imitate the life of a slave on the plantation as a means of education to school children and an added attraction to tourist.
He slammed the committee members, indicating that they seemingly “lost their collective minds” to stage such an event which he put down to “the kind of mental lapse that deserves permanent retirement from association in every national organisation…”.
The letter went on to say: “…The parents of children forced into servitude for the benefit of the National Heritage Committee, the school principals, all of us, we should all be so very ashamed that this group dear speak for us…
“…The Chairman of the National Heritage Committee says that this reenactment should be a permanent feature of rural tourism and I want to commit myself to her permanent removal from everything having to do with Grenada Public life.”
Edwin gave reporters his version of what transpired at the re-enactment event in which he sought to take photographs.
“… I attended River Antoine with my camera. There was a line of old women and men poorly dressed, they were imitating, I guess the movement from people from the field to the factory where the cane was being ground.
“I observed that these men and women, they wore old ragged clothing, their backs were bent and on their faces were these faked expressions of anguish. The narrator then said, ‘here are the slaves, they’ve come from the field…massa is watching over them as they come in from the field and I felt my skin grow cold.
“…I turned to the narrator and I said, “ma’am, did you just say massa watching over them? Is that what I heard you say?
According to Edwin, the person was apparently taken aback that someone would ask such a question and her response, “I need police, I need security”.
Attorney Edwin said: “It was as though the National Heritage Committee was waiting for me to appear. One uniform Sergeant, three plain clothes detectives, and one SSU officer surrounded me, grabbed me by the shirt, grabbed my Camera, and began to push me…”.
“I was surprised that this was happening in my country, Grenada, where I think freedom of expression is still alive. I think if one does not break the law and there is no basis for an arrest, an arrest should not happen,” he explained.
Edwin alleged that the action taken against him was ordered by the Chairperson of the Heritage committee who was heard saying words to the effect “take him to jail, throw him under the jail; get him out of here.”
He also said the owner of the River Antoine Estate also indicated that she did not want him on the property.
Edwin spoke of being taken away to the Grenville Police Station but was not charged.
He said that as soon as he was released from custody, he proceeded back to the event to get the photographs he first intended on getting but was again kept out of the event.
He stated that since the encounter, he has lost two perspective clients who heard about the arrest.
“They were concerned about their cases and whether or not I was the person fit to represent them, in as much as it has gone out to the world that I had been arrested by the police – after all police arrest you if you’ve done something wrong”, he said.
“I have had two cancellations…they sent me a message last night saying that they have retained other counsel…” he added.
According to attorneys Alexis, QC and Clouden, they intend to start the legal process by writing a letter to the relevant authorities to complain about what was done to Edwin.
“Our client was not boisterous; he asked a question. A question relating to the authority“…. did you say that massa is observing them?” So, they want to put on an activity but don’t want to answer questions germane to the activity.
Where then is our constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, the liberty of the individual…?” said Dr. Alexis who was regarded as a Black Power advocate in his younger years at university.