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Apr 29, 2019

Brawl at Agric Ends with Men and Women being Pepper Sprayed

The annual agricultural show is a mass public gathering that attracts huge crowds. This year, it got off to a good start, but on Sunday, police moved in to quell a melee. The situation, however, escalated to a point that police resorted to the use of pepper spray on onlookers. It all started when an attempt was made to steal the wallet of an individual. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

There were a series of minor incidents, including a wounding by stabbing, at the National Agricultural and Trade Show grounds over the weekend. They were dealt with accordingly, but on Sunday afternoon, a brawl at a pavilion on the ground ended with several persons being detained and many others pepper-sprayed; bystanders were also affected when officers stationed on the grounds intervened in the melee. The brawl was reportedly triggered by a person reacting to the attempted theft of his wallet.


Hakeem Arzu

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The person believed that the other guy behind him was trying to steal his wallet. And he turned around and punched the individual when in fact it was not that individual who may have been trying to do him something. And that was what caused the scuffle.”


In the wake of the incident, amateur footage went viral on social media, capturing the responding officers’ actions to diffuse the scuffle. A number of officers were seen tugging and pushing on several persons; women tried to intervene as their respective loved ones were being taken away by officers who were waving wooden batons and pepper-spraying individuals to the face. Women were pepper sprayed as two men were being arrested—one of the men was in a chokehold. The two and a half-minute video also captured a woman fall unconscious after having been sprayed.  There have been mixed views on whether the actions by police were warranted. Commissioner Chester Williams says the officers must be allowed to discharge their duty to protect.


Chester Williams

“I watched the video and I know that there are some people who are criticizing the police about the actions the police took in dealing with the situation and there are some who have praises for the police.  I honestly believe, having looked at the video that the police acted reasonably as without the actions of the police, the matter—considering the amount of people who were at the show grounds—the matter could have escalated to a state where there could have been many casualties. The police have a duty and in the discharge of that duty, we want to ask the general public to please respect the work that the police is doing. We are there to ensure your safety as well. And so I stand behind the actions of the police officers in that incident and yes I know pepper spray was used, not tear gas, with a view to calm down some people who were acting very boisterous.”


A cameraman attached to a media house claims that he was assaulted and forced to delete footage he captured on his phone. Angel Noble says that he was pepper sprayed, choked, and struck to the stomach by officers attached to the MIT. His phone was returned after he deleted the images he filmed.


Chester Williams

“I heard of something of similar nature, but not in the way it was explained. Yes as I said before, pepper spray was used. And again, while we do allow people to video what the police is doing, I will reiterate the fact that if you do it in such a way that you come too close and obstruct the police from doing their work, then we are not going to tolerate you. I do not see anything in the video where the police struck anybody. So if it is that Angle, my good friend, believe that he was struck by the police, then he can go and make a report and we’ll look into it.”


While persons were detained, no charges were levied against any individual. Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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