A newspaper report on Sunday about the verbal abuse of Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson and his wife by shoppers at a supermarket is a sad reflection on the nature of our society.
The report said Richardson was shopping at the grocery with his wife on Friday when some people “began shouting and hurling abuses at him, accusing him of picking on Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley” in the probe of the emails. The report said Richardson confirmed the incident.
The whole ugly episode is the result of the irresponsible remarks by Rowley and Senator Faris-al-Rawi about the probe that resulted from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision to hand over to the police documents that Rowley said contained a string of emails about a conspiracy involving top government officials.
The government accused Rowley of fabricating the emails and Rowley currently faces censure by Parliament’s committee of Privileges, which meets on Monday to consider what action to take against the opposition leader.
Rowley must take responsibility for this act of intimidation. He started this when he stated that he had no confidence in Richardson to conduct the investigation. And Al-Rawi compounded it when he accused the police of leaking to the media a story that Rowley was unwilling to hand over his computer to police.
It was a well orchestrated assault on the police by two men who are positioning themselves to be leaders of Trinidad and Tobago and demonstrating that they would go to any length to get what they want.
The message they sent by their attitude to the probe and the police is what caused this mob mentality among supporters.
DCP Richardson is doing his job and does not deserve to be treated like this in his presence of his wife, who must have been severely traumatised by this incident.
This kind of behaviour is characteristic of some supporters of the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) who are taking a cue from their leader. Rowley’s supporters used the same kind of hooliganism to humiliate former PM Patrick Manning, whom they literally threw out of Balisier House following the PNM’s defeat in the 2010 general election.
We agree with Attorney General Anand Ramlogan that Rowley’s attacks on the police and in particular DCP Richardson borders on incitement to commit a breach of the peace. Ramlogan said, “What we are witnessing is the harvest and fruit of the seeds of social disorder and discontent that he (Rowley) seems bent on sowing.”
Rowley’s style of being loud and aggressive is sending a clear signal to fanatic supporters that it is OK to bully and intimidate people. Such poor leadership demonstrates that the prime minister was right when she accused Rowley of being the worst opposition leader ever in T&T and that Rowley is not fit to hold office.
Unless Rowley and Al-Rawi immediately condemn this behaviour they would stand accused of causing citizens to descend to the nature of the beast through their reckless statements about Richardson and the police service. They also owe an apology to DCP Richardson.
We are a civilised society and must not allow this mob mentality to continue to take root.