Mayor Junia Regrello, center (in glasses) at scene of confrontation - Photo taken from video footage by photojournalist Trevor Watson
San Fernando, Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - Mayor Junia Regrello found himself in an angry confrontation with police as they tried to shut down carnival celebrations in San Fernando prematurely on Tuesday night [February 13], in the middle of a steel band’s performance at a competition venue on Coffee Street, without explanation.
It was in keeping with what the police have done in San Fernando for almost a decade, shutting down the carnival at 10PM.
“Who has the authority to adjust the time of Carnival when the Proclamation from the President of the Republic says it is from 4AM on Monday to midnight on Tuesday?
“Who has the authority? I need to know how that is done,” Mayor Regrello asked calmly during a brief interview on Wednesday morning while explaining that while he does not want to undermine the police he will ask the Legal Department to investigate how and why they can happen.
“If I was not the Mayor I would have been arrested,” he said explaining that “at one point a Constable had his hand on my shoulder as I kept asking him on what basis they were shutting down the carnival.”
There were three bands left to play at the competition venue when the police moved in.
“They had given us the assurance at several meetings, up to Friday last, that they were not going to stop the carnival as they would have done in the past nine or ten years,” he said.
“If they had information that something was amiss they could have said so,” Regrello said.
Eventually a Senior Superintendent stepped in and informed the Mayor there was a stabbing on Cipero Street.
“You cannot shut down the entire city for that. The pan competition is of no threat to anybody.
“This requires some reasonable thinking” he said.
“I stood up on behalf of the people who have been complaining every year, including the vendors. And that is a sensitive matter. There are also vendors who make an investment for a particular period.
“And then there’s the Southern Marines Steelband with children who are seven and eight years old to play in the competition.
“San Fernando had a good year with the steel band, we won the Small Bands Panorama (Golden Hands) the Medium Bands (Pan Elders) and had a very good showing in large bands, with Skiffle placing second. It was a nice feeling and there were pan lovers and a mature crowd with a nice feeling and the police just came, disrespectfully, to shut us down?” he asked incredulously.
Insisting that he has a good working relationship with the police, Regrello explained that when the Assistant Superintendent came to the scene the matter was settled and the bands were allowed to play in the competition in which the steelbands played a calypso, other than their Panorama tune of choice, to be eligible for a prize.
“If there was information on something they should have let us know and we would have understood.
“I have also been hearing how tired the police were and how they were short of manpower and frustrated.
“But the proclamation says Carnival ends at midnight and they have been shutting down the city for the past ten years, to the disadvantage of the steelbands.
“The DJs had their way for two days. It was the steel band competition on Tuesday night and they showed no respect,” he said.
A Journalist/Editor based in Trinidad and Tobago, with 35 years experience in print, broadcast and digital media. As a founding member of the T&T Mirror Newspaper, I served as photo journalist, columnist and editor over 23 years.
My experience in broadcast journalism started and ended at the now defunct National Broadcasting Service (Radio 610 AM and Radio 100 FM). I honed my skills in broadcast journalism at the Radio Netherland Training Centre (RNTC) and I am a certified media trainer.
Single-handedly, I established a small but effective News Department at Trinidad and Tobago Radio Network Limited (TTRN). As a seasoned news woman I am skilled in photojournalism, parliament and court reporting, writing and producing for print, electronic (radio and video) as well as digital media and promotions. I have mentored and trained a few younger writers and producers along the way. For this and more I earned a National Award in 2012, the Humming Bird Medal (Gold). I am the mother of a young scholar, an undergrad at Columbia University in New York, and a lover of steelpan music.
contact Sharmain Baboolal at: firstname.lastname@example.org