Allison Jean, whose son Botham Jean was gunned down in Dallas by a white female police officer, has demanded accountability for killings by Saint Lucia police as a Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally got underway Friday at Constitution Park in Castries.
The rally, which Saint Lucia police said was illegal, was organized by the advocacy group Black Lives Matter Saint Lucia.
Organisers urged attendees to observe social distancing and wear masks.
The event, at which there was a police presence, was planned as a show of solidarity with the protest movement against police violence and racial injustice that has been sweeping the United States and the world.
The movement was sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
Floyd, an African-American man, was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
“As you all know, my son suffered as a result of the colour of his skin and as a result of police brutality in Dallas, Texas, so it touches my family, it touches my country, it touches my church and therefore we must stand in solidarity with George Floyd and the several lives lost at the hands of police or white supremacists in the United States,” Allison Jean said at the rally here on Friday morning.
Amber Guyger who fatally shot Mrs. Jean’s unarmed son, Botham Jean, in his own apartment in September 2018, was fired from her job as a police officer and sentenced to 10 years in jail for murder.
“So we cannot just believe we are here in Saint Lucia and it can’t touch us – it touched us in September 2018 and it can touch many others who have families in the United States, who have children who have to go to school for study and who have business to do in the US,” an impassioned Mrs. Jean asserted.
“We must show America and the rest of the world that our lives matter – that black lives matter,” she declared.
But she explained that her presence at the rally in Constitution Park was also to demand accountability in Saint Lucia for the lives of those who have been taken by the police in Saint Lucia.
Mrs. Jean mentioned Arnold Joseph and others by name.
“We have to demand accountability from our police so we can make Saint Lucia a much safer place,” Mrs. Jean declared.
”Saint Lucians we are too passive regarding things that matter to us. Don’t wait until it happens to us personally to get involved,” she stated.
Mrs. Jean also aired her views regarding the current State of Emergency in Saint Lucia.
She expressed the view that it oppresses and restricts people.
Acting Police Commissioner, Milton Desir, had denied permission for the Black Lives Matter rally in Castries, citing the COVID-19 protocol under the State of Emergency.
At the same time, Saint Lucia police expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Mrs. Jean was of the opinion that Desir had no choice, since to approve the rally would have overwritten the emergency regulations.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, in a statement Thursday after word that permission for the rally had been denied, expressed the view that Saint Lucia should show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.
He said he had discussions with the parties concerned and requested that they explore every possibility that would permit the Black Lives Matter activity to go on without contravening the established protocols.
However Chastanet he said the final decision was the responsibility of the relevant authorities
“It is for the Prime Minister to come out and say exactly what he wants – whether he is supporting or not. You cannot be supporting on one side and then a law restricts us from protesting, from airing our views, from airing what is within us, so they need to come out and look closely at that State of Emergency,” Mrs. Jean asserted.
“Our constitution is held on its neck – we cannot breathe as a result of that State of Emergency, but at the same time you see people roaming the streets, you see people eating at restaurants and you’re wondering, ‘Whose lives matter whether it is one set of lives or all set of lives?’” she said.