Friday, March 30, 2012

SVG Seeks Redress

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar. 30, 2012: St. Vincent & Grenadines says it is seeking “redress” following the arrest of the son of the Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines and ambassador to the U.N., Camillo Gonsalves

Gonsalves, was reportedly handcuffed by an overzealous New York City cop on Wednesday, March 28th. Ambassador Gonsalves told The Associated Press that he was arrested after stepped out of his official car, through a barricade in front of the U.N. building in midtown, New York City.

Ambassador Gonsalves said as he began walking to the UN building he was confronted by a New York police officer on Wednesday, who shouted: “What do you think the barricades are there for?”

Gonsalves said the officer ran into the building, “grabbed me by my neck and shoulders, spun me around and said, `Didn’t you see me talking to you.’”

Gonsalves told the AP, he replied: “You couldn’t have been talking to me.”

But the cop persisted, and demanded identification. “I said, `Why? Am I under arrest?’ He said, `Well you are now.’”

“At that point he handcuffed me, with assistance from other officers he called as a backup,” Gonsalves was quoted as saying, even as other ambassadors began to tell the officer he was in the wrong as Gonsalves has diplomatic immunity. The ambassador was handcuffed for 20 minutes.

“The officer, for the first time, (then) inquired who I was,” Gonsalves told the AP. “I told him. He called for his superiors. The U.S. State Department, as host country, was also called and they sent representatives.”

“The initial position of the NYPD was that I was disorderly, and something should be done because of my disorderly conduct,” added the ambassador.

But Gonsalves said after discussions with him, the State Department representatives, and the other diplomats, “the NYPD were persuaded to release the handcuffs, and I’m back in my office now.”

“Separate and apart from any diplomatic immunities, I personally think the officer was wrong and committed an assault against me,” Ambassador Gonsalves was quoted as saying. “We will be following up. We will seek other forms of redress, but what form it will take, I can’t say.”

Yesterday, the St. Vincent & Grenadines ambassador to Washington, La Celia Prince, in an email said she along with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Ambassador Gonsalves “are already taking every angle – diplomatic, legal and otherwise – to bring redress to this situation and correct the affront to the good name of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The NYPD has said Gonsalves was detained in handcuffs after ignoring the officer’s repeated requests to stop and identify himself. He was released as soon as he produced identification, she said.

The incident is reminiscent of the arrest of Grenadian-American, New York City councilmember, Jumaane Williams at the annual West Indian Labor Day Carnival last September. Williams, was arrested when he walked through an NYPD barrier. Both men are black.