It started out with a couple of hundred persons actually marching; and the numbers built steadily as the March progressed.
In addition, the sidewalks along the route were heavily populated, with many of the ‘bystanders’ moving along with the March .So they too, or a significant number of them, were doing that to identify with the process, although they were afraid, for one reason or another, to actually step onto the street and ‘be in the March’.
That group of ’bystanders’ included a number of civil servants, Auxiliary Workers (formerly known as Non-Established Workers), and employees of Government corporations and agencies, who were afraid of being targeted.
Some of them had actually received threats from their superiors. One man, a driver, told us that he had been informed that if he was seen anywhere near Freedom March , he would be fired.
Another, a messenger, told us that(he) had been seen listening to a certain public meeting some time ago and had been told very sternly never to repeat such a thing.
Very tellingly also, were the comments made discreetly to us by a number of young graduates working in the public sector who expressed their solidarity with the mission and activities of Operation Rescue, as well as their utter disgust with the leadership, attitude and behaviour of Denzil and with the callousness, the abuses and the corruption that they are seeing.
But there’s more. Many business people told us that while they were fully behind us, they were afraid to march, because they too might be targeted, and that they might lose more business, all the more so because the country is so polarized and business is so bad.
One businesswoman told me this morning:”Dwyer, whatever the crowd was yesterday, multiply it ten times, because most of us, big, medium and small, are being squeezed to death. And on top of that we are terrified by the crime and by the irresponsible and arrogant attitude of the Prime Minister in everything that he does. We’re behind what you all are doing, and we want desperately to show it, but we are afraid!”.
So, it was really the bravest of the brave who stood openly in Freedom March yesterday. And they are all to be commended.
We want also to thank the many who stood on the sides and showed their solidarity. Their confidence and courage will only grow stronger.
And at the short rally that was held following Freedom March, independent counts tallied up the crowd ion Bank Street between West Independence Square and The Circus between 1,500 and 2,000 people.
That is a big crowd in any situation in this country.
And remember, Freedom March had no Majorettes, no DJ, No NuVibes, Grand Masters, Small Axe, Kollision, or the like, to hype up young people and draw a crowd to make the March look bigger than it actually should have been. There were no buses rented to swell up the proceedings.
It was a bare March. A sober, conscious, serious March. Not a ’ jump and wine’ party. Indeed, a young Labour woman asked me yesterday before the march which band and which DJ we were having and I told her that we were not having any. And she asked:”Wha’ kinda march dis all you ah have?”
Yet notwithstanding all of the challenges and obstacles, it was a ripping success. And there was a strong presence of young people.
But still I haven’t painted you the entire picture. Because, as you will recall, in a press conference on Wednesday, held in his capacity as Prime Minister, Denzil inappropriately and disrespectfully( and once again abusing the power vested in him by the people) called upon Labour supporters to take to the streets of Basseterre wearing red on the day of Freedom March.
Then I am told that an effort was made on Thursday to get his people on the street the following day, to red up Basseterre.
His motives were to test his support on the streets and to try to neutralize Freedom March and the Marchers however possible. Now what made that particularly curious was that it came from the mouth of a man who had dismissed Operation Rescue, its members, and Freedom March as stupid, confused and a waste of time, even stooping to lie about me with his silly story that I had said three times at a public meeting that I hate him, and so on.
So what happened with his call to red up the streets? Did his supporters obey his command? I saw about six of them. SIX! So the answer is a resounding no!
A number of them were seen taking their buses home on Friday afternoon, wanting nothing to do with his so called command to hit the streets wearing red.
In fact, I saw a well known Labour activist in town wearing a white shirt and I asked why he had not obeyed the command of his leader. His answer shocked me. He said:
“He shub me head under water. Leh he arse drown”.
This widespread rebuff and rejection by Denzil’s followers was a deadly blow to his already very big but brittle ego. S shaken has he been by it that an emergency meeting was held today to see what damage control could be done.
He is shattered by it all, just as he is shattered by the success of Freedom March.
One of his problems is that in his arrogance, he expects people to forever block their minds from the joblessness, the ‘moneylessness’, the ‘houselessness’, and the near hopelessness into which he has plunged them. He expects them to do his bidding .Because he is their Ruler and High Priest! Or so he believes.
But they kicked his butt yesterday. As did the rest of SKN.
Now let him have a Labour Day march without the majorettes, without the DJ’s, without the big bands, without paying the busmen to bring in his dwindling band of supporters.
Let him have a real Labour Day march which is for workers to celebrate the progress of the Union and of trade unionism generally, and of workers’ empowerment , over the past sixteen years under his leadership of the Labour Party and the Government.
Let the Labour Day march show that the percentage of jobs held by locals, and the percentage of businesses owned by locals, in our economy has grown under his leadership.
Let the Labour Day march show that Kitttiians and Nevisians have a bigger piece of the economic pie than they did before.
Let the Labour Day march show that local people have a stronger hand in this country’s affairs, and that it isn’t a handful of foreign pirates who run things here. Let him call his people out to march for, and celebrate, that!
Let the Labour Day march show that Kittitians and Nevisians have free, unfettered access to the beaches of their native land!
Let him have that kind of march on Labour Day.
Let him haul the workers to the streets to ‘celebrate’ the destruction of our natural environment that has been taking place, pretty much unchecked.
Let him encourage the workers to march in celebration of their great Ruler: for the nearly $3 billion national debt and the 195% debt-to-GDP ratio that he, through his incompetence, has loaded upon this nation; for causing so many people to lose their jobs; for businesses to be losing so much money, and downsizing and even closing down; for the high cost of living; for VAT; for the continually failing electricity system which he promised personally to fix seven years ago when he fired halva Hendrickson as the Minister of Works; for the killer increases that he has dropped on the people’s backs in electricity rates; and for the lawlessness and the disorder that have taken over the nation, starting in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Parliament.
If he is not to be blamed for those things then he can manfully call on the masses to march with him on Labour Day to celebrate that nothing is his fault!
Let him call on them to march in celebration of Lex Consulting, in celebration of the sweetheart deals that he has given to his friends, in celebration of corruption in Government, and in celebration of his stubborn refusal to pass Integrity in Public Life legislation.
And let him do those things instead of chatting foolishness about Freedom March being a failure and a sign that the people of this country have rejected me.
Rejected me? I am not running for office or for position in any political organization. No interest whatsoever.
I dun outa dat! I am a citizen speaking my mind and agitating for a Leader.
What we have is a Ruler, and a bad one at that. We need a Leader.
But I am not surprised at Denzil’s response. You see, he’s blinding himself to one simple, haunting fact: each and every day more and more people are rejecting him and calling for him to go.
That is what he is going to have to deal with in the days to come. And he can’t handle it.
Meanwhile, stay tuned, as Operation Rescue rolls out more activities.