The second of three town halls was held at the Sandy Point Community Center coming just 2 days after the first, held at the Old Girls’ School at Victoria Road, Basseterre. Sandy Pointer and former senior government planner, Patrick Williams, again gave his presentation, using visual aids to illustrate what was proposed for the impending redistricting. The mathematical implications for Sandy Point as well as the rest of the island were explored, as was done in the Basseterre Town Hall meeting.
Another former senior civil servant, PLP chairman Douglas Wattley weighed in, at one point laying out for the country the choice that had to be made. “The Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis has approached a fork in the road. One road leads to a place called Democracy and one road leads to a place called Dictatorship. Now, Democracy is a place where the rule of law prevails; Democracy is a place where the voices of the people reign supreme. Democracy is a place where everyone has an equal opportunity to survive and thrive in the country of their birth.”
“Democracy is a place where peace abounds,” said Wattley, paraphrasing the National Anthem. “On the other hand,” he continued, “Dictatorship is a place where one man decides which laws to obey and which laws to break; Dictatorship is a place where only one man has a voice and the people are rendered mute. Dictatorship is a place where only a few friends, family and plenty foreigners get the few fruits of Labour. He also characterized Dictatorship as a place where corruption pervaded government, and also as a locus of constant upheaval.
Much passion, patriotism and a keen sense of civic inquiry were in evidence among the town hall attendees when the floor was opened up for questions and comments. The following is a sampling of the words of the “P” (People) in the names of both PAM and PLP.
“Why is it Denzil Douglas wants to hold on to power longer than [he is wanted]?…That is a question for all of you [onstage]…And [I want to know] if you all are going to allow him to manipulate the system and further hold on to power to oppress us?”
One constituent addressed the audience directly saying: “People, what do you all want in this country? Do you all want unity or not?” Yes, the audience roared. “We support unity!” he declared. “We do not want the Douglas regime no more!”
Another attendee, addressing Williams, claimed that Prime Minister Douglas had called Williams “a non-entity”. He begged to differ, praising Williams for his presentation.
A self-described “proud Sandy Pointer” had words of warning for certain elements of the Defense Force, who he claimed were being trained for mobilization during the next elections. “They have a lot of young fellas from St. Pauls enrolled in the army…I would like to send a message to them…they…have parents, they have brothers and they have sisters;
And they have to realize right now if you put a cat in a barrel, and you cover it down and you light it, it’s hells that cat will have to try to get out…we ain’t gon care whether they have family or not.”
The unfairness of allowing foreigners, specifically students, to vote was raised by another audience member.
“Why is it these people [African students] have the right to vote in St. Kitts? I would like to know. Because even in Africa, you leave Ghana and you go to Nigeria, you can’t get to vote if you not from there…so why they have the right to vote here? They can’t come here to dictate for us who is gonna be our leader.” The citizen also claimed that there were rumors alleging that SIDF money was going into the pockets of some Africans to buy votes.
“All I have to say to my neighborhood is…vote out Douglas! Vote him out of here!” cried a pithy Sandy Pointer.
PAM chairwoman Cindy Demming was the proxy for a shy town hall attendee, who asked Demming to read a note she had written. In her note the citizen called for love, peace and continued prayer for the nation. Politicians were encouraged to get out and canvass for the vote. “Go out there and do the groundwork,” Demming read. “Pound the pavement. Speak to people. Canvass and speak to them about unity.”
Well-known PAM supporter Chris “Moonlight” Roberts posed a question and offered his own campaigning suggestions to the Unity movement. Roberts wanted to know when the “Unity Partners” were going to have a meeting in St. Pauls (the hometown of the prime minister and a perennial Labour stronghold).“I’m really ready and willing to go to St. Pauls for us to keep a big public meeting to tell St. Pauls people how we stand.”
“Now my comment is that I think it’s full time we stop back down. This turning the other cheek,” lamented Roberts. “We are not a church party. We are a political party…”
“Job is not my brother anymore; Job is not my cousin,” he said, as though disavowing the forbearance of that biblical icon of patience. “Timothy [Harris] has taken it easy for 18 years; Sean take it easy for 18 years [and they want us to] take it easy down here [in Sandy Point] too [as though we want] 18 more!” Roberts pressed for a harder line of protest, even if it meant lives had to be forfeited.
The next town hall meeting is scheduled to be held on Monday, 29th July at the Cayon Community Center at 7:30pm.