PHILIPSBURG–The St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) district meeting in Belvedere Wednesday was interrupted around 9:15pm by unknown persons throwing rocks at the crowd at the meeting. As one of the candidates took to the podium large rocks reportedly started to hit the attendees.
Attendees immediately moved away from in front of the stage and the police were called to intervene. The assailants were believed to be hiding near the Belvedere Community Centre, according to eyewitnesses. Police patrolled the area, but were unable to find the culprits. No one was hurt during the attack.
Party leader Wycliffe Smith was seen speaking to police officers on the scene. The meeting was cancelled. In a press statement issued Wednesday night, St. Maarten Christian Party condemned “in the strongest possible terms the use of projectiles and missiles that were hurled at party candidates during a meeting in Belvedere.”
The rocks reportedly were flung over the Belvedere Community Centre’s perimeter fence from a dark area, sending party supporters and onlookers scampering for cover.
“Many could be seen covering their heads with chairs to avoid being hit by the rocks. It was shocking to see elderly people running for their lives as more than a dozen rocks of 10 inches and greater were hurled in successive swift action into the crowd and on stage,” according to the party’s release.
The release stated that no police presence could be seen in the Belvedere area even after 30 minutes of registering a complaint.
“In a democratic society acts of violence cannot be tolerated. This goes against freedom of expression. This is one of the reasons we are also advocating for police outposts in every community. Police response time is critical in instances like these,” Smith said.
“We believe that this was an act of the enemy trying to silence the SMCP but we want the perpetrators to know that our voices will still ring out in Parliament and in the nation,” Smith added.
The release went on to state, “It is our civic duty to remind all political parties, political enthusiasts and electioneers to remain watchful, vigilant and focused during this campaign season and condemn all acts of terror.”
The party plans to continue campaigning in Cole Bay on Thursday night at 7:30pm opposite Harley Davidson bike depot.
Source: Daily Herald
Stoning disrupts Belvedere meeting