Opponents of the Bodden Town dump proposal have blasted Member of the Legislative Assembly Ellio Solomon for complaining to the police commissioner about anti-dump protesters attending a recent public meeting.
Describing comments made by Mr. Solomon at a Finance Committee meeting last week as a “spectacle”, Vincent Frederick of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free said this was the second time an attempt had been made to silence opponents to the proposed waste facility.
“First there was the systematic theft of our yard signs by an unidentified individual in a pickup truck, and now this attack on our right to demonstrate. But, they won’t shut us up,” Mr. Frederick said.
Last month, about 25 signs that had been erected on the roadsides and in people’s yards in Bodden Town were removed overnight. The Coalition reported the theft of the signs to police.
Mr. Frederick said: “But, Mr. Solomon is a spokesman for government and his comments must be seen as a veiled threat against the right of free expression of anyone opposing government policy. Will they try and call the police to break up any future protest?”
Another coalition leader Alain Beiner said the problem was not the group’s protest, but the “government’s assault against our district and its environment by needlessly forcing a dump on us so that Dart can expand its empire and increase its profits.”
He added: “While government and its two MLAs for Bodden Town look after Dart’s interests, we have to defend the interests of the Bodden Town population – by shouting and waving placards. Government has left us with little choice. They have refused to consult the people and ask for their consent; they promised to meet with the coalition, and never got back to us.
“They promised to give us the information we requested, and broke that promise as well, and they failed to invite us to speak at their rally. Solomon’s comments may well be the opinion of government, and a threat to everyone’s civil rights.”
Mr. Solomon raised his concerns to Police Commissioner David Baines about “shouting and screaming” by the protesters, who he said were trying to drown out the speakers at the 8 March UDP government meeting in Bodden Town.
The George Town MLA asked the police chief at the 13 March Finance Committee meeting if the group had permission to hold a demonstration. Mr. Baines told him that they did not, but that permission is usually only necessary for demonstrations that were likely to obstruct traffic, block roads or disrupt the public.
The police chief added that police officers at the meeting judged that the conduct of the demonstrators did not warrant any arrests or other police action.
The coalition has condemned the relocation of the George Town landfill to Bodden Town, claiming the government is doing this because Dart wants the present dump “out of its backyard” so it can develop a new residential project at Camana Bay.
Members of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free argue the proposed facility will hamper new tourism, business or residential developments in Bodden Town and the trucking of the vast majority waste that will be dealt with at the facility from other parts of Grand Cayman will have a major impact on the local roads and increase noise, pollution and accidents.
“By reprimanding the police for not stopping our protest, they admit that they’re unable to answer coalition objections,” Mr. Beiner said.