Barbadians from all walks of life donned their whites and took to the streets today to protest against the Freundel Stuart administration’s handling of the country’s affairs.
With chants of “We Want Justice”, hundreds of placard-waving protesters joined the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in a “white march” from Heroes Square to Browne’s Beach, St Michael, a stone’s throw from the Office of The Prime Minister where the regular Cabinet meeting was in session.
Rocking from side to side to the music of Jamaican legend Bob Marley, the message they were sending to Stuart was clear: they were fed up with his Government and wanted to see the back of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration.
“You Dun Know the Dems Must Go,” one placard read. “Why Should We Lose Our Jobs and DEM Keep Theirs?” stated another. “No Layoffs? DEM Lie” and “The Power of The People is Stronger Than The People in Power,” screamed others.
Residents of northern parishes who have been experiencing months of water outages drew attention to their plight with one placard making reference to dry taps in St Joseph, while another referenced the entire north.
“BWA is Doing An Injustice to Josephines”, “The Whole of the North No Water” and “Pipes Dry and Pockets Dryer,” some read.
The BLP had insisted that the march was not about politics but a statement for justice. However, one elderly woman, who requested anonymity, said she came out dressed in white because she was a proud supporter of the BLP.
“I love the party. I really love my party,” she sang out.
Still other marchers talked about their economic situation and their desire to see a change of Government. Some said they struggled everyday to meet the basic needs of their households, blaming a “drowning economy” for this reality. One woman complained of being unemployed for just over a year, after being retrenched.
“I think people should know exactly what is going on in this country. This march will send a message to the Government. I think we should even march for a change in Government,” Bison Downes said.
Shelly-Ann Thorpe shouted that she was marching in solidarity with the people who were experiencing the hardships that she faced daily. She suggested that if not for the Opposition, “Barbadians would get up one morning and find themselves drifting in the ocean.
“You know what it is to have four children and no income? Children crying and you can’t get nothing to eat. How would you feel? The ministers ain’t interested in who crying, sitting down or lying down. Them looking for big salaries. Barbados should never be in this position,” Thorpe said.
“I have a mortgage that I can’t pay. I can’t find a job. Things tight. With the BLP, life was much better for me. I use to see my way and now I suffering. We need a change and we need it now.
“It has nothing to do with party, it has to do with the Government don’t have respect for the people anymore, so we want a change,” one woman who referred to herself as “Dark Sugar” pointed out.
The march was led by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, who was joined by several of her Opposition Members of Parliament, including Kerrie Symmonds of St James Central, Dwight Sutherland of St George South, St Michael South East’s Santia Bradshaw, The City’s Jeffrey Bostic and Cynthia Forde of St Thomas.
Member of Parliament for St Michael East Trevor Prescod, who recently underwent surgery, was also among those who marched and interacted with the protesters.
President of the National Union of Public Workers Akanni McDowall had said he intended to join the protest and he kept his word, He was accompanied by Second Vice President Fabian Jones and Treasurer Asokore Beckles.
Entertainers Peter Ram and Edwin Yearwood, social activist David Comissiong, as well as political scientist Peter Wickham were among prominent Barbadians seen among the crowd.
The march began at about 12:15 p.m. and ended at 1:05 p.m. with an address by Mottley, who called for healing of the nation.