Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar distanced herself from a slew of verbal attacks – and almost physical – launched by UNC supporters against a Guardian Media (CNC3/Trinidad & Tobago Guardian) news team, attempting to cover the protest outside the Red House yesterday.
The situation grew so volatile, the members of news crew removed themselves from the area, only to be followed by some angry UNC supporters.
Responding to a text message, the UNC leader said she gave “no instructions” for her party supporters to interrupt or prevent CNC3 journalists from doing their jobs.
The protesters gathered outside the parliament in support of the party’s No-Confidence Motion against National Security Minister Stuart Young.
Dressed in yellow t-shirts and equipped with placards that read, “the cost of Young is too high,” and “311 days locked out by Young,” the protesters assembled around 10 am, but were stopped by police as the approved time for the protest was from noon to 2 pm.
They decided to wait in Woodford Square.
It was then this reporter, accompanied by video journalist attempted to interview the party supporters about their decision to protest, that the verbal attack began.
“I boycott CNC3, you talk to she, I boycott CNC3 I doh (sic) want nothing to do with them,” one protester shouted.
The same protester then discouraged others from speaking with the Guardian Media team.
UNC supporter Louis Lane tried to explain the reason they came to protest against Minister Young.
She said that it was time for nationals stuck aboard to get the opportunity to come back home.
“Look how many persons out there waiting to come home…why it is we have to go through this? We have friends and family outside it is not fair to the citizens of T&T,” Lane said.
“I am out here because I think enough is enough and it’s time for Stuart Young to get with it, leave!” she continued.
Lane said the homes of some people outside the borders have been vandalized and they have lost everything. She also condemned the new exemption application system.
But as she attempted to explain why Lane was interrupted by a UNC supporter who asked her why she was talking to CNC3.
“Why allyuh (sic) talking to CNC3 for…allyuh (sic) like to see allyuh self on TV awa?” the protester shouted.
For the news team to record the protesters, our camerawoman had to give the microphone to another media worker and record through the fencing outside of Woodford Square as the atmosphere grew tense and hostile.
“You’re only out here for a story,” one protester shouted as he went live on social media.
But that was not the end of the verbal attack by some UNC supporters, as they approached the fencing and shouted “boycott” in the faces of the news team.
It almost turned physical, as one angry UNC supporter attempted to slap away the hand of this reporter as I blocked his camera which he placed to my face.
“Gone, take the news from TTT”, he shouted.
It is not the first time Guardian Media was denied an interview from the UNC.
On January 20 our reporter contacted the Public Relations Officer Kirk Meighoo about a post on the party’s official Twitter account about the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rolwey, which read, “Keith Rowley is vile, unstatesmanlike and disgusting.” But Meighoo refused to give a response to this media house.
It all stems from the UNC’s call for an apology from Natalee Legore for a comment the Morning Brew host made on the show. When the host stood her ground, the UNC took its complaint to the Telecommunications Authority of T&T.
TATT, two weeks later, found that CNC3 did not breach concession terms.