Friday, April 13, 2012


News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 13, 2012: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has expressed regret over the arrest of Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves by an officer of the New York Police Department.
Ambassador Gonsalves was reportedly handcuffed by an overzealous New York City cop on Wednesday, March 28th after he stepped out of his official car, through a barricade in front of the Vincentian mission building in midtown, Manhattan.

Ambassador Rice, who is a member of cabinet of the U.S. government, visited Ambassador Gonsalves at his office in the Permanent Mission of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations on Tuesday, April 10th. It marked the first time that a cabinet-level official of the U.S. Government visited the Vincentian Mission.

Recognizing that Ambassador Rice is currently serving as President of the United Nations Security Council at a particularly busy period in the Council’s agenda, Ambassador Gonsalves stressed his appreciation that Ambassador Rice had taken a personal interest in the matter, and had taken the time to visit him at his office.

Ambassador Rice informed Ambassador Gonsalves during the 30-minutes meeting that the New York Police Department would undertake a thorough internal examination of what took place on March 28, 2012. The Vincentian envoy has previously detailed his assault, arrest and detention by the NYPD in the lobby of his workplace.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the relevant resolutions and agreements governing the interactions between the United Nations and the United States of America, diplomatic agents have immunity from arrest or detention in the exercise of their functions.

Ambassador Rice reiterated the seriousness with which the U.S. government views its obligations to ensure that the dignity and safety of United Nations’ diplomats is respected. Ambassador Rice also indicated that she intended to discuss the incident with both CARICOM and the 33-member Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), which sent formal letters of protest to the United States Mission in solidarity with Ambassador Gonsalves.
Both Ambassadors agreed to keep in touch to follow up on the matter.

Gonsalves told the AP immediately after the incident that the police officer ran into the building behind him on March 28th and “grabbed me by my neck and shoulders, spun me around and said, `Didn’t you see me talking to you.’”

Gonsalves said then, 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.”
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, a spokesperson said.

The CARICOM Consular Corps in New York has slammed the New York Police Department following the arrest of the ambassador and said it is “a pattern of conflict developing between the NYPD and the Caribbean community.”

The Corps, in a statement obtained by News Americas, said it is of the view that the latest act of March 28th sets a dangerous precedent by the NYPD and does not augur well for good relations between the NYPD, the Caribbean Diplomatic community, and all Caribbean nationals.
As a result, the Corps said it has decided to “put on hold all joint activities with the Corps and the NYPD until an amicable solution can be reached in this matter.”

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.

Published on Apr 12 2012 // Breaking News, Caribbean, Featured, News, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Top Stories, United States