By Caribbean News Now contributor
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — An attorney who wrote a widely circulated article opposing the staging of an event reenacting slave life on a Grenada sugar estate was arrested by police on Thursday where the event was being held under the auspices of Grenada’s ministry of tourism.
An official news release from the government ministry entitled “Cultural hertiage (sic) and sustainable tourism” said that the slavery reenactment was part of the United Nations global theme of Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Development.
The reenactment was sponsored by Grenada’s National Heritage Committee, which advertised it as a permanent part of the island’s rural tourism product.
Grenada has a population of just over 100,000 and approximately 500,000 tourists every year visit the Spice Island mainly from North America and Europe.
According to the news release, the slavery reenactment was also intended as an educational exercise and imitated the arrival and life of those enslaved so that “the nation’s children can have a better understanding of the way the slaves lived on the various estates in Grenada.”
On the eve of the government sponsored event, the attorney, Jerry Edwin, had written that the reenactment was a gross insult to the victims of what is universally described as a crime against humanity.
“It is very difficult to accept that not a single person on the National Heritage Committee realizes that genocide is not reenacted. The victims do not imitate the tragedy. Slavery was not an event. This was a crime against humanity,” he wrote.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said that he supported the attorney’s opposition to the event.
“Those who have initiated this reenactment need to look at it again because it is clearly something we should not be promoting,” Mitchell said of the slavery reenactment.
In 2013 Grenada was a founding member of the Caribbean Reparations Commission, which is a regional body of 12 nations created to establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the governments of all the former colonial powers for the crimes against humanity of native genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery.
Grenada’s minister of culture, Senator Brenda Hood, who attended the slave reenactment, told police officers that she was pleased the attorney was arrested, while the chairwoman of the National Heritage Committee urged officers to throw him in jail. Other members of the Committee cheered the attorney’s arrest and removal.
The owner of the 200-year-old distillery where the reenactment was staged also said she supported the lawyer’s arrest and removal from the event.
After the attorney was arrested and detained at the main regional police station, he returned to River Antoine Rum Distillery where the slavery reenactment was being held to take photographs but he was forcibly removed by police officers a second time.
Uniformed students from public schools in the parish where the rum distillery is located along with local residents looked on as male and female “slaves” clad in dirty ragged clothing walked slumped over in a line with symbolic loads of sugar cane on their heads, while an announcer from the National Heritage Committee narrated the reenactment over a loudspeaker, accompanied by two drummers.
The attorney who was refused a meeting he requested with the Committees before the event had written in his article that the slavery reenactment was a “Monster’s Ball”.
No other comment or reaction was possible from the government since the contact email address on its official website: email@example.com does not work: