by JP Schwmon
Earlier this month social activist and local calypsonian Robert ‘Patches’ Knights complained to local media about an altercation with his next-door neighbor that led him to seek both medical and legal intervention. Patches described the quality of attention he received from the police officers who visited the scene moments before he was allegedly physically assaulted and the reception he encountered at the Central Police Station in Kingstown when he visited to lodge a formal complaint.
According to Knights, he permitted the nearby Lowe’s to connect their sewage waste to his septic tank since they had no such facility “for some weeks.”
The connection, Patches explained, was supposed to be a temporary set up.
“Approximately almost two months ago now, I was standing right here going in my house and [my neighbor] approached me and told me that they no place to use as bathroom … for weeks and if I could give them a hook up so their sewage system could come down into mine here.
“Being the way I am I said, ‘that’s a serious problem.’ She said ‘until Wednesday’ which was the following week…. The next day she had somebody come and set it up.”
One week later and the neighbor was able to solicit “a little more time” from Patches who agreed to “carry the strain a little longer” especially since he was the only person in his home versus the almost “nine ah dem who live” across from him.
Another week elapsed before Patches finally caught up with his increasingly elusive neighbor who in turn offered to “help to pay to pump” out his septic tank when it reached its storage capacity.
Patches said he turned down Ms. Lowe’s offer and later sought out the Central Water and Sewage Authority in hopes of uncovering an amicable solution, given Ms. Lowe’s assertion that she was in conversation with a senior staff member there about possibly connecting to the CWSA operated sewage system.
“I went to see Mr. Dalrymple in his office, sat down and spoke to him. He told me well, the price was exorbitant for them so they’re trying to work on it to bring it down to a level they could reach.
“They took off thousands of dollars; to the point where it reached very low… and gave them a week. That week now turned into 3 additional weeks. I called Mr. Dalrymple and told him I can’t find the lady….
“When I did find her, I told her the situation…. I said ‘Madam, I’m going to have to cut this thing. I spoke to my plumber and I spoke to Mr. Dalrymple he told me I was within my rights to cut it and plug. So you have to find some method to alleviate your problem’,” Patches explained.
While in the process of removing the Lowe’s PVC pipe access to his septic tank, Patches said, “the woman, her three daughters – 4 ah dem – came up there first and start to curse and threaten, they gonna do – outta de blues… they gonna mash up this, they gonna do this…
“I kept my cool but they came on my property all thing… I called the police. They came in a pick up – 4 of them – I went out there and start to speak with them then the woman and her daughters went to talk to the police.
“I explained to the police what occasioned them coming here because I was the one wanted their service just to protect me to do what I have to do because these people were attacking me.
“The police told me okay he’s gonna talk to the people them. The police ain’t come here up to now to see the situation. Apparently they are familiar with the girls and them for the lady. So the police didn’t come. When they did come the police asked ‘how yo could go cut the ting?’
“That’s the attitude… They police left and went down there and started throwing words for the brethren …. They were disrespectful. They threaten until they wanted to fight him – they come right on my property, one of them, to the point where he actually take he gun and throw it give [another] one saying he would fight Pops over there….
“The police now took it over. They had a bias. I told them ‘alyuh have a bias because alyuh ain’t come to help me solve the problem. All I needed was your protection from these people who behaving like loose canons, that’s all I needed.”
Patches also claims that he was inflicted with actual bodily harm when sometime later, accompanied by a plumber and armed with the necessary tools, he tried to make the planned adjustments to his neighbor’s sewage outflow line.
“When the police went down there, me and Pops was back here and Ms. King – the mother threw down a stick at us. She hit him and hit me with the stick. Then when I got the plug to go plug the thing 3 ah them come around here on my property, one of them stood up here, and told me ‘yo half dead arready’ and ‘if I give you a box I kill you right here now cyar you dun half dead arready’ and ‘you can’t mek me move from here.”
Patches said he left to lodge a formal complaint at the Central Police Station having endured the alleged physical assault. At that point he was given a report of injury form to take to a doctor.
He further described feeling “scared now for my safety because they threatening; it’s just me alone and if they gang up on me I ain’t going to play head strong. I know I’m in my rights but I ain’t going to play headstrong. So I didn’t go back there because they’re over me, they’re under me [and] they’re around me.”
According to him, the matter was reported to the Public Health Department. “A young fella” who informed the complainant that he had “to wait until next week” before any interventions were made, logged the complaint.
Although the senior members of the Public Health Department opted not to publicly address the issue, one source in the know confirmed that Patches’ report was entertained, a team was eventually dispatched to investigate and the department – in its wisdom – elected to educate rather than prosecute especially since both parties could have been brought up on penal charges of having “created a public nuisance.”
Before the promised mediation, however, Patches had to endure the stench and attendant discomfort of his neighbors’ “naked feces” being flushed onto his concrete yard mere inches away from his wooden house.
Seeing the situation escalate to that point, Patches again attempted to reach out to the local constabulary at its Kingstown headquarters.
Patches related the alleged non-cooperative approach adopted by the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigations Department on that Saturday morning.
“I just went to see if I could get the police to assist me; [Sgt. Bowens] started to try to dominate and try for me to not say what I came to say. I tried to explain to him my situation and Mr. Bowens told me finally, ‘police can’t do nothing about it – go to Solid Waste.
“But I said, ‘Solid Waste told me call the police’ so you’re sending me back to the people I went to already. So police say they can’t do nothing it’s out of their hands so I put it in the hands of a lawyer….
“I live peaceably with people. I know who I am a rebel against. These people are not my enemy. I see they bringing politics into it – if it was politics I wouldn’t do nothing for them, in there interest…” the longstanding calypsonian added.
The Lowe’s, for their part, again committed to putting things in place to properly manage their human waste. This time the Public Health watchdog allowed them “a week or two” to rectify their situation, our source confirmed. A prefabricated sewage tank was one of two options that the Public Health team reportedly recommended to the Lowe’s. A follow-up visit was promised, at the time of our conversation, to verify which option was finally settled upon.
While it is unclear whether the Lowe’s have been able to solve their sewage problems – it is very obvious that Patches was finally able to plug the Lowe’s sewage outflow pipe and as such is no longer being directly impacted by his neighbors’ fecal woes.
Meanwhile an observant bystander is of the view that that localized septic challenge is symptomatic of a larger sewage management problem around Kingstown. When asked, the well placed sourced, noted that some residential property owners in the nation’s capital can not afford the monthly service fees to ensure continued connection to the centralized sewer line. The public toilets and showers were meant to alleviate that particular issue, the source said.