Police tonight halted the fourth meeting of the University of Independence Square where Barbadians had gathered to observe African Liberation Day and honour the late Archbishop Granville Williams for his contribution to Barbados.
At 7:58pm a policeman, who reportedly said he was acting on direct instructions from the Commissioner of Police, walked up to the podium as Opposition Barbados Labour Party Member of Parliament Trevor Prescod was speaking and immediately put a stop to the proceedings ahead of the planned bestowment of a posthumous tribute to the deceased Spiritual Baptist pioneer.
The irony of the police action was not lost on members of the late Archbishop’s church, who were gathered there to receive the tribute, as Archbishop Wilfred Babb noted it occurred mere yards away from Fairchild Street bus terminal where the late Williams concentrated much of his pioneering and revolutionary style of worship and was frequently removed by police.
David Comissiong, president of the Clement Payne Movement and member of the Pan-African Coalition – the two organisations hosting the meeting – said that owing to an oversight, the actual permission for this meeting, held the third Saturday of each month, was not obtained.
“The officer said to me that he had strict instructions from the Commissioner of Police himself to terminate this meeting,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Comissiong, an attorney-at-law, said he found the police action unusually inconsiderate as they were “holding a meeting in a sense under the auspices of one of our statutory corporations, the National Conservation Commission; having permission from the NCC, having all the requisites of insurance coverage in place, and yet the police not even being prepared to [let me] explain that a slight oversight had been made and to exercise some discretion to permit a meeting that basically was about the liberation of our black people”.
Archbishop Babb spontaneously began a church service without the aid of loud speakers and Comissiong presented him with the tribute to Williams during that service.