The sounds of car horns blaring filled the air outside the United States Embassy in Port-of-Spain for several hours yesterday, as hundreds of citizens heeded the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ)’s call to join worldwide protests over police brutality and racism in that country.
Armed with placards bearing the slogan “Honk Your Horn for #blacklives”, a handful of the MSJ’s members led its chairman Gregory Fernandez and political leader David Abdulah stood at the side of the Queen’s Park Savannah and encouraged drivers to participate.
“We are asking people to blow your horn and send a message through the embassy to Washington,” Abdulah said in a brief interview.
Abdulah explained that the initiative was a show of solidarity to US demonstrators who were spurred into protest action following the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last Monday. The four police officers involved in his death, which was captured on camera, have since been charged.
He claimed that his organisation came up with the initiative as a method of avoiding breaches of current public health regulations baring group gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abdulah took aim at controversial US President Donald Trump and his (Trump) response to the nationwide protests, which Abdulah described as undemocratic.
“We are here to let Mr Trump’s representative in Trinidad (US Ambassador Joseph Mondello) know that we object totally to Trump’s racism, misogyny, and neo-fascist threats,” Abdulah said.
Abdulah also said the political party was also seeking highlight local instances of injustice, discrimination, and inequality.
While a news team from Guardian Media was present at the scene, a large group of police officers in tactical gear arrived on the scene and kept a close eye on the MSJ team and members of the media, who came to cover their protest.
One senior officer was heard cordially advising Fernandez and Abdulah to observe the public health regulations, which precludes public gatherings of more than five persons. At the time, there were six MSJ members, approximately a dozen media personnel and over 16 police officers.