On the afternoon of Friday 13th August 2021, Ms. Adriana King and Mr. Kenson King were arrested in separate actions by the police. Ms. King was taken to the Central Police Station in Kingstown and later transferred to the Questelles Police Station. Mr. King was taken initially to Questelles Police Station but was later moved to the Central Police Station. They were kept in police custody until Sunday afternoon. They were each charged with four offences. Following ceaseless efforts by their lawyers led by Mrs. Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who called the Commissioner of Police and the Head of CID without having her calls answered, they were given station bail and released on Sunday evening. They had spent two days in jail under poor living conditions.
Kenson King and Adriana King were each charged with four (4) counts of breaching the Public Order Act, as follows: that on July 29, 2021,each: (i) was concerned with organizing a public procession without notifying the Commissioner of Police at least 24 hours before the procession, and (ii) took part in a public procession in contravention of Section 5(1) of the Public Order Act, and that on August 5, 2021, they committed similar offences stemming from the protest action held in Kingstown on that day.
Clearly, all the charges stemmed from the protest actions that were organized in Kingstown by the New Democratic Party, the Public Service Union and SVG Teachers Union and other social partners in opposition to the Public Health (Amendment) Bill and other serious issues.
Despite widespread public disapproval of the Bill, the government pushed it through Parliament in the early hours of Friday morning August 6th, when most people in the country were asleep and were unable to hear from the government why they were amending the law.
Kenson King and Adriana King were taken to the Magistrate’s Court on Monday 16thAugust 2021. Present at the Magistrate’s Court in Paul’s Avenue were Leader of the Opposition, Dr. the Hon. Godwin Friday, Hon. St. Clair Leacock, Senator Shevern Lewis-John, Hon. Dwight Fitzgerald Bramble and family members and friends of both persons. Many other members of the public who came to express solidarity with Mr. King and Ms. King were stopped by armed police from coming near the court, suppressing the show of popular support for them against their arrest and charging.
Dr. Friday commented that the arrest and charging of Mr. King and Ms. King in this manner will not deter people from standing up for their democratic rights.
He reiterated that Kenson King and Adriana King, like many other persons who were in the protest actions, had legitimate reasons to protest as the Bill being introduced by the government was very unpopular throughout the country.
He committed the New Democratic Party to continuing to support the ideals of democracy, and the rule of law, and to standing with the people, including Kenson King and Adriana King, in the exercise of their democratic rights. We are not a police state, he noted, and therefore the rights and wishes of the people must be respected.
When called upon by the Magistrate, Mr. King and Ms. King each pled not guilty to the charges brought against them.
Their cases were adjourned to the 17th November 2021.
They are represented by lawyers Mrs. Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, Mr. Israel Bruce, and Ms . Shirlan Zita Barnwell.