PHILIPSBURG:--- News that missiles were thrown at supporters of the St. Maarten Christian Party during a political meeting at Belvedere on Wednesday night have met with outrage by the leader of the One St. Maarten People Party –OSPP—Lenny Priest.
“I read in the newspaper on Thursday that elderly people attending that political meeting had to cover their heads and run, and that is wrong on so many levels that we as a people cannot just sit back and shake our heads. We live in a free society where we have the freedom to congregate and share our views and where we have a right to our beliefs and opinions and where no one has the right to physically attack anyone because they do not share the same views,” Priest said in a statement issued on the heels of the incident. According to a report in the local media on Thursday, unknown assailants, who are believed to have hidden themselves in the area of the Belvedere Community Center, threw rocks at the gathered supporters of the SMCP during their meeting in the Belvedere area, resulting in the police being called to the scene.
“The SMCP has the same right as any other organization or political party to campaign and has their voices heard and garner support with like-minded individuals. Their supporters have the same rights to congregate that everybody else on this island has, so why in the name of all that is holy would an individual or group of individuals believe it would be ok to stone them? We all have the right to congregate and the right to freedom of speech. Just like the right to vote these rights were fought for and they must be cherished and respected.
“I understand that people are frustrated with all political parties and politicians right now, I know that people are feeling the pinch and that can quickly deteriorate into boiled up anger and frustration. But people need to remember that the pen still remains mightier than the sword. If you are upset, then go out on Election Day and vote for change. Chanel your anger into constructive criticism through opinion pieces in the local media, write to your representatives and express your views, or find another way of expressing your displeasure without infringing on someone else rights,” Priest advised.
He further urged the perpetrators to think of where they would have been today if they had unwittingly seriously injured or killed someone through the pelting of missiles. “Our people must think of the consequences of their actions before taking them and maybe then, they would refrain from some of the choices they make. At some times in our life, everything seems like fun and an adventure, but we must drive home to our children that actions have consequences and sometimes bad decisions that they may view as just raunchy behavior lead to serious repercussions for other people and eventually for them,” the OSPP leader said.
He urges everyone to keep in mind that violence is never the answer and to take actions that foster a stronger better St. Maarten where each one helps one. “I am calling on all the political parties and for us to jointly and as individuals condemn this type of action as it is not and never has been part of our politics,” Priest concluded.
OSPP Press Release