Traffic on Broad Street ground to a halt today just after noon; and Probyn Street and Bay Street were transformed into a sea of white as thousands of demonstrators, led by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, made their way to Government Headquarters to present a letter to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart protesting the imposition of the Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
It was just after noon that Mottley emerged from the southern gate of Parliament, surrounded by several members of her parliamentary team, to be greeted by loud cheers from a large and excited crowd that had assembled in Heroes Square long before the scheduled noon start of the walk.
During the march, it was noticeable that the only no-show today was former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, while St James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds, who had locked horns with Mottley earlier this week over her stance on the tax, featured in the front ranks of the demonstrators.
It took about ten minutes before Mottley could pull herself away from the enthusiastic supporters who hugged her, patted her on the back and offered words of encouragement.
As the large placard-bearing crowd made its way in front of the Treasury Building and over the Duncan O’Neal Bridge and on to Probyn Street, several shoppers and pedestrians assembled on the sidewalk to cheer and offer words of encouragement.
As members of the procession made their way along the route, they were treated to the popular Bob Marley tune Get Up, Stand Up For Your Rights and such popular calypsos as Black Stalin’s You Can Make It If you Try; Gypsy’s Captain, The Ship is Sinking; Red Plastic Bag’s Bim; and Serenader’s Out of Wuk.
The crowd was armed with placards that carried such messages as The DLP Is Not Working; Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay; and a report card that showed Failed for the years 2008 to 2014.
During the hour-long march, a speaker from the truck carrying the public address system and providing the music, said to the crowd: “If you working with Mia, raise your hand” –– at which point scores placard-bearing hands shot up into the air, showing their support for the Barbados Party leader.
Addressing the large crowd at the conclusion of the march near the traffic lights on Upper Bay Street, Mottley said: “Today is about sending a message that the people of Barbados will not allow anybody, not even the Barbados Labour Party, Democratic Labour Party, the private sector to intimidate them ever again. You have been raised to think for yourself, and you have the right to speak out without somebody trying to unfair you in this country.
“So today is equally about reclaiming for Barbadians the right to express themselves in an environment where fear is removed. We do not believe that the removal of a Commissioner of Police, or the charging of a reverend for saying this is the worst Government, or threatening businessmen with contracts, or threatening people with jobs –– this cannot continue in a Barbados of the 21st century.
“If ever the time comes that you give us the confidence to lead you, we too must ensure that we never rule a Government that’s unfair, or to cause fear in the country. This is the solemn promise of the BLP.”
Several party stalwarts made their presence felt today and they included former Cabinet members Sir Louis Tull and Delisle Bradshaw, Lady St John (widow of former Prime Minister Sir Bernard St John) and former Deputy High Commissioner to London Herbie Yearwood.
Also making their presence felt were pollster and political commentator Peter Wickham; lecturer in political science at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, Dr Tennyson Joseph; and DLP candidate for Christ Church West in the 2008 general election, Taan Abed.