PNC/R marchers protest on range of issues
Abuse hurled at govt ministries, PM’s home
June 15, 2002
Hundreds of citizens, some from as far as Linden, Kwakwani and Everton, on Thursday took to the streets of Georgetown to protest their grievances in a solidarity march around the city, organised by the PNC/R.
The march saw representatives of the PNC/R, unions from Linden and Kwakwani, Buxtonians and members of the Justice for Jermaine group, protesting, among other things, government corruption, the failings in the bauxite industry and extra-judicial killings.
Hours before the march began there was heightened police presence on the main city streets as officers were positioned at strategic locations to facilitate heavy rush hour traffic.
Hundreds of persons assembled at the Square of the Revolution at 1430 hrs when the march was scheduled to begin, many of them holding placards highlighting their grievances. Some of these read: "We want fair house lot distribution," "Investigate extra-judicial killings" and "A government has no right to discriminate."
The procession, which was led by motor cycles and pedal cycles, moved off at 1500 hrs, but was quickly brought to a halt a few minutes later, in what would be indicative of the entire march. Marshals tried in vain to organise the protesters. After some semblance of formal organisation, the procession moved off.
Moving west along Brickdam, many persons lined the streets, some out of sheer curiosity, others to join the passing procession. Approaching the Brickdam Police Station, there were chants of "Run Merai Run! We Ain’t Backing Down!" The same would occur less than a minute later in front of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
At 1537 hrs, the cavalcade turned into the Avenue of the Republic, causing the suspension of traffic along the mini-bus routes. The procession continued north but was briefly halted when some vehicles interceded, causing a break between the middle and tail section of the procession at the intersection of Avenue of the Republic and Croal Street. This would happen again at the intersection of Avenue of the Republic and Church Street. As the procession made its way along Main Street, several entities, including the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Customs and Trade Administration and Guyana Power and Light Inc, padlocked their gates while employees watched the parade from within the compounds. As they made their way closer to the Prime Minister’s Official residence there were chants of `Run Sammy Run!’ and `We gon shoot you down!’, `We gon bun you down’.
At 1610 hrs when the procession reached the Ministry of Finance there was some confusion as the leading group continued into High Street. Order was restored and the procession marched into Lamaha Street, then turned into Waterloo Street then into New Market Street and then back onto Main Street, where they proceeded until they came to Robb Street where the headquarters of the governing party is located. Expecting the inevitable, PNC Chairman, Robert Corbin made an attempt to prevent a deviation from the prescribed route. However he was unsuccessful as a small section broke away into the street. The main body of the procession continued towards Regent Street, which did not sit well with some of the group which had broken off.
When the procession entered Regent Street at 1641 hrs, some businesses had already closed in expectation of the march. There was some congestion of traffic, and marchers chanted: "A people United Cannot be Defeated." The crowd’s anthems became less vulgar and more inspired. Several gospel songs accompanied the marchers as they proceeded along Regent Street.
On arriving at the Ministry of Agriculture however, some persons led the crowd in derogatory chants in reference to Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Gail Teixeira.
This exercise would be repeated shortly after as the procession passed the Office of the President. Here, both the President and Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon were targets of several verbal onslaughts. Finally at 1720 hrs the procession made its way into the Square of the Revolution, where the march ended.
Corbin, speaking about the organisation of the march, noted that any complete control would be difficult, especially when considering the various groups which constituted the gathering. But he professed to be pleased with both the turnout at the march and the general calm of the marchers.