Chairman of the Push Back committee and businessman Robert Amar, second from right, and other participants walk around the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, during their event, yesterday.

A health walk billed “Push Back Two” that attracted hundreds— including children—came to an abrupt end on Sunday after police used tear gas to break up the crowd.

The police reported that participants of the walk began acting erratic and hurled missiles at armed lawmen who had to throw canisters of tear gas to disperse the unruly crowd.

Following the incident at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, 11 people were arrested and children left nursing injuries.

Up to late yesterday, the 11 arrested were still detained at the St Clair Police Station.

But chairman of Push Back committee and businessman Robert Amar has disputed the police report that the participants were unruly.

“This is insensitivity of the police and inconsideration for people’s rights. In my view that is the only reason that could happen. These people went there with no hostility…people went there to express themselves with the way the country is going…the mandatory position the Prime Minister is forcing on the people and the lies that are being told to the country,” Amar told Guardian Media in a telephone interview.

“Absolutely ridiculous, absolutely uncalled for. Nobody went there with any missiles. What are missiles? You could walk with a plastic water bottle. I didn’t see any bottle flying.”

Amar said they videotaped the walk and gathering which would substantiate their story that they went there in peace.

“They (police) would say anything they want to say. They want to disperse the crowd because the crowd was not moving.”

He insisted that excessive force was used by the police.

“Absolutely. There were children and elderly people there. They had no right to do that. Is that the best way the Police Service has been trained? It’s ridiculous.”

Asked how many tear gas canisters were dispersed, Amar said, “I understand it was four or six based on the smoke we saw. Two of them ended up in the old foreign affairs building and the security guards there had to run.”

The walk, which began at 11.15 am and ended at 12.30 pm, Amar said, was organised to get people back on a health conscience movement.

“We don’t have a problem with vaccination. We always tell people we are pro-choice.”

Amar promised to write a letter to acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob regarding the incident.

Among the 11 arrested, Amar said, was social media activist David Welch.

“They arrested Welch for tearing up a placard.”

In the first Push Back on November 30 last year, Amar said, 35 people were arrested and charged for breaching public health ordinance, specifically gathering in groups more than ten.

The 35 were detained for 16 hours.

“It was to teach the 35 people a lesson. This is not going to stop the people. The people are not satisfied with the feedback. Let the Prime Minister answer the question, how many people of the 82 per cent were not vaccinated at all…that died (of COVID-19).”

Amar said they intend to continue the walk every Sunday.

Acting Supt Kissoonlal, of the Port-of-Spain Division, who headed a team of armed officers at the walk, told Guardian Media that people at the savannah “were hesitant to remove themselves and they started behaving in a very violent manner…I think one or two of them threw something at the police….that is what caused that. It could have been empty bottles. I don’t know what they throw.”

He said because the crowd refused to disperse tear gas had to be used by officers of Guard and Emergency Branch.

“Eleven persons were arrested. One of them is a female. They are being detained.”

Kissoonlal could not say if charges will be laid against them.

Prior to the walk, president of the First Wave Movement and activist Umar Abdullah told the gathering that their presence at the savannah signalled that enough is enough.

But Abdullah’s address was interrupted by Kissoonlal who informed the crowd that no permission was granted for the meeting.

“And if you do engage in any protest and march around the savannah we will have to deal with you according to law. We are asking everybody, please get your permission first from the office of the commissioner (police) and please abide by the laws,” Kissoonlal told the attendees, who started to jeer him and loudly object.

Abdullah pleaded with the crowd to follow the instructions and walk around the savannah six feet apart.

Following the walk, an unidentified woman appeared in the middle of the assembly holding aloft a placard with the words “Pushin’ Forward with D PNM” while shouting “vaccinate to operate.”

A lone man was also seen waving a red and white PNM flag.

Shortly after Welch was arrested and taken away.