Jamaican police have detained several members of the small opposition United Independents’ Congress (UIC) who took to the streets on Wednesday protesting against mandatory vaccination.
Police clashed with protestors as they marched from St William Grant Park to Gordon House, the Jamaica Parliament in the capital.
Police had on Tuesday warned against staging an illegal march in the capital, “stating categorically that it is not in receipt of any application to hold this or any similar march across the island.
“As such, the public is advised not to participate in what would be an illegal march,” the statement said, adding that “while the Constitution allows for peaceful gathering, a march of that nature would not be authorized at this time, as it would be in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), which stipulates that no more than 10 persons must be gathered in any public place”.
The police said that the protest would not be in compliance with Section 7 of the Public Order Act, which among other measures, notes “where any person desires to organize any public march in daylight, he shall, at least three days before such intended public march, make an application for a permit to the senior officer of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for the parish in which the public march is to take place, or to the Commissioner of Police if the application relates to the Corporate Area of Kingston and Saint Andrew”.
As police arrested several of the protestors, some members of the public were demanding their release.
The Police have arrested the main organizer of the protest, Joseph L Patterson, following his non-compliance with the provisions under the Public Order Act. Jamaican laws require that individuals organizing public marches must get a permit from the police. No permit was sought. pic.twitter.com/d81RCxZ5fw
— Jamaica Constabulary Force (@JamaicaConstab) September 22, 2021
During the protest, the UIC reiterated its demand for all 63 Members of Parliament to resign.
The Andrew Holness government has been urging people to get vaccinated against the virus, indicating also that it wants to have at least 65 percent of the population vaccinated by March 2022 so as to achieve herd immunity.