`Boom Boom' extremes Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
February 2, 2002

WE REPEAT that any group that feels aggrieved has a right to protest and to draw attention to its case - but such protest must be within lawful limits.

While some of those in the mini-bus protests that started this week against the police `boom boom' (big music) boxes campaign have kept their vehicles off their regular public transportation routes and stayed within legal protest limits, others have not and there have been unacceptable excesses.

The law enforcement agencies cannot sit by and allow people to break the law with impunity and those who attacked non-striking mini-buses and passengers, robbing some people in the process, must be dealt with firmly.

Keeping the buses off the road, parking them at the sides of some roads or owners, drivers and conductors simply standing and holding placards aloft without interfering with others are acceptable forms of protest.

Stopping non-striking buses, puncturing the tyres of vehicles, hauling passengers out of buses not in the protest and robbing and attacking people are not acceptable forms of protest. These are despicable, dastardly attacks on other people simply going about their business and the authorities must move to ensure that such actions are ended.

A strong message has to be sent that such excesses would not be tolerated and those who say they want to have discussions on the issue with the Home Affairs Minister, cannot be expected to be entertained while such terror continues in the cause of a `boom boom' protest.

We think that the Police have been extremely tolerant in the face of reported incidents so far but innocent people cannot continue to be held hostage and terrorised while others parade their disrespect for the law however they feel like.

We understand that during the protests on the East Coast this week when vehicles were stopped, people on their way to a funeral were among those traumatised by a gang of so-called protesters.

It is true that criminals and others may seek cover under the `boom boom' protests but the organisers and leaders of the mini-bus strikers have a duty to ensure their actions are not sullied by the misdeeds of others.

In other words, if the attackers on mini-buses, including those attempting to overturn a bus in the city, are not from their members, the `genuine' protesters should help the police nab them. This would send a firm signal to the `fake' protesters that they would not be tolerated by the `genuine' protesters and may even win their cause some public support.

After making their point earlier this week, mini-bus operators in East Berbice were reported back on their regular runs yesterday and there has been business as usual in other parts of the country.

However, as the protest seemed to dwindle yesterday with more buses going back to work, some reportedly sought to get the protests going again and there were confrontations on the East Bank Demerara yesterday afternoon.

In a call for public backing, the police this week appealed to the general public for support "as the maintenance of law and order is everyone's concern." "Those mini-bus drivers and conductors who have what they perceive as grievances, are asked to proceed airing or venting those grievances in a lawful manner", Police headquarters advised.

This is not being heeded by some and it is time for the public to take a stand on this issue.