Some­times we need pro­tect­ing from our pro­tec­tors

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Kayra Wil­liams

It came as some­thing of a shock that lit­tle had changed at home in Saint Lucia dur­ing the three years or so I was away in Canada, at least as far as con­cerns the re­la­tion­ship be­tween some in author­ity and me­dia per­son­nel. The re­gret­table fact was driven home to me this week as I pho­tographed MPs ar­riv­ing out­side the House. Sud­denly some­one barked at me: “Delete my photo now or else!” The barker turned out to be a uni­formed po­lice of­fi­cer who had been stand­ing in the back­ground as I pho­tographed a par­tic­u­lar par­lia­men­tar­ian. The last thing on my mind as I did my job was passersby, uni­formed or oth­er­wise.

When I asked what he was talk­ing about, the of­fi­cer said: “You took my photo, I saw you. You know I can put you out of here, right?”

Tow­er­ing high above me and out­weigh­ing me by over a hun­dred pounds, this par­tic­u­lar pro­tec­tor of life and prop­erty hissed: “You know I can put you out of here, right?” And I said: “Put me out of where? The House lobby? The park­ing lot? Why would you want to do that, any­way? Am I creat­ing a dis­tur­bance?”

His re­ac­tion: “Delete it or leave!” I looked around at the sev­eral wit­nesses to the in­ci­dent, all of them pre­tend­ing to be blind, deaf and dumb. I let the of­fi­cer know I was do­ing noth­ing il­le­gal, that I was a jour­nal­ist at work, that I had no in­ten­tion what­so­ever of delet­ing any of the pic­tures I had taken in the most public of places. Some­thing I had done count­less times with­out in­ci­dent.

“Where do you work?” he asked. “What me­dia house do you work for? Do you have ID?”

I was even more con­fused, espe­cially when he said: “If I was a Rasta with locks and a cut­lass, you wouldn’t want to take my photo!” I won­dered: is this po­lice­man off his rocker? What was he talk­ing about? Did he mean I de­lib­er­ately took his pic­ture be­cause of his movie star looks, to ad­mire be­hind closed doors?

I stopped short of dig­ging into my bag and fish­ing out my ID, keep­ing in mind he had not both­ered any of the other me­dia per­son­nel en­gaged in the same busi­ness as I. Of course my col­leagues had all moved on when this po­lice of­fi­cer chose to scare the day­lights out of me, for no rea­son I could think of. As if to make mat­ters even more scary, the of­fi­cer pulled out his cell phone and pro­ceed to pho­to­graph me.

“Go right ahead,” I said, imag­in­ing the worst rea­sons he might have for pho­tograph­ing me, among them doc­tor­ing my im­age for the pur­poses of Face­book. Count­less times I had read about young women whose heads had been photo-shopped onto nude bod­ies not their own. Yes, scary. Worse yet, my sit­u­a­tion in­volved a po­lice of­fi­cer paid to pro­tect and de­fend me from pre­cisely what he was do­ing to me.

I con­sid­ered a let­ter of com­plaint to the po­lice com­mis­sioner, then chose in­stead to write this piece for public con­sump­tion and to in­vite oth­ers who have been sim­i­larly treated to tell me about their or­deal. I still might pay the com­mis­sioner a call!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.