Masqueraders and promoters directly involved in the Foreday Morning Jam are taking a threat to the event seriously, saying they were leaving nothing to chance.
At the same time they are putting their faith in the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to prevent any “disturbed characters” from disrupting the popular pre-Kadooment parade.
A chilling message which appeared on the social media message sharing platform Whatsapp, threatened a “bloody disruption” of the annual event, allegedly to avenge the murder of jockey Rico Reid 23, of Brittons Hill who was shot execution-style recently while waiting to board a cruise on the Jolly Roger.
Police have since launched an investigation into the social media posting, promising that “all appropriate measures would be taken throughout the Crop Over season to provide a safe environment for all persons in association with other law enforcement agencies and private security.”
In the wake of the police statement, President of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders Chetwyn Stewart told
Barbados TODAY while he believed the island was relatively safe, the threat should not be taken lightly.
“I would think it is something that should be taken seriously and I am happy to hear that the police are taking it seriously. We are living in a different time all together nowadays, so anything like that should be taken seriously. Taking all the other incidents into consideration you have to,” Stewart stressed, adding that the participating bands were also encouraged “to have as much security as was possible to make their revellers feel safe”.
In an interview this morning, Stewart said he was concerned that potential overseas revellers could be turned off by the threat and a concerted effort was needed to assure the general public that the island remained safe, and that adequate security would be in place.
“When people from overseas hear this it would make them a little worried and tentative about coming. So I think we need to educate the public more. A lot of people still don’t realize what the festival really means and what it brings,” he said.
The head of the grouping of masqueraders stressed that the festival generates US$110 million and the point had to be made that the beneficiaries were not limited to entertainers and promoters.
Among those weighing in on the issue was Scrawl Up, which plans to participate in this year’s Foreday Morning revelry for only the second time, placing its trust in the police to apprehend those behind the threat.
“We trust the competence of the Royal Barbados Police Force who continue to effectively police large activities such as Foreday Morning jam. Any individuals who would spread rumour, or who would seek to incite any kind of violence to deter law abiding citizens from enjoying our Crop
Over festival, are disturbed characters. The powers that be can deal with them, we are confident about this,” the band said in an email response to questions posed by Barbados TODAY.
When contacted tonight, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley expressed confidence that the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) had the matter “under wraps”.
“The police are quite capable of handling these type of matters and I believe that we really have nothing to worry about,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Suggesting that the show will go on, Lashley also called patrons to have confidence in the safety record of Crop Over events.
“I know that at this time there have been some issues pertaining to lawlessness and the use of guns and so on, [but] . . . I don’t think it should throw a damper over our
Crop Over celebrations,” Lashley said, while complimenting the Force for its prompt investigation of several recent criminal matters.
The Government spokesman also called on citizens to support the crime fighting and apprehension efforts of police, saying, “Though we can’t stop people from sending out messages, what we can do is to ensure that the police get the information and the culprits are brought to justice”.
Today, several Barbadians also aired their views on the matter via Facebook, many indicating that they were considering skipping the popular jam in light of the threats.
Paulette Noel wrote, “ I will not be attending Foreday for the first time. I prefer to be in my house this year while it going on. I took what they post serious.”
Ryan Bayne, in response to Noel, said, “As the incarcerated Reggae singer Buju Banton once sang 21 years ago, ‘Who can afford to run will run/ What about those who can’t? They will have to stay’. In these dreadful times, it is best to be safe than sorry.”
Sharon Taylor suggested that the allegations be taken seriously and called on the police
“All I saw was someone spreading rumours! The police have to investigate not only because of public safety, but also because this [little] island depends heavily on our Crop Over visitors. If there is no proof to these allegations, the person that typed them should be charged! Simple.”
‘Keisha RS’ added, “People spend way to much money to fly in for this nonsense. Barbados will soon lose its only resource which is tourism if this isn’t fixed.”