A man crusading as “The Resistance” who defaced several buildings in Port-of-Spain and allegedly set the Ministry of Health on fire in a campaign against COVID-19 measures, has been arrested and charged.
Twenty-seven-year-old Jean Paul Cooper, who the Prime Minister described as a lunatic fringe during a news conference, was arrested on Monday after weeks of investigations by officers of the Port of Spain Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
Following the attack on the health ministry during the early hours of August 8th, the resident of Diamond Vale, Diego Martin, allegedly left a message in red spray paint on the building that stated: “COVID-19 is all about the New World Order. Stop it now. #THERESISTANCE.”
In the days and weeks following his arson at the health ministry, ‘The Resistance’ also allegedly vandalized several other buildings in Port of Spain, including Guardian Media’s head office on St. Vincent Street on Sunday 16 August. The man took issue with the media conglomerate’s stance on educating the public about COVID-19.
“ON BEHALF OF T&T WE SAY NO LOCKDOWN, NO MANDATORY MASK WEARING, COVID NUH REAL,” was written on the company’s building after one of the glass panes were broken.
Cooper is also associated with the group Trinidad and Tobago United Power (TTUP), which was included in the spray painted messaging.
Similar messages were spray-painted on the walls of buildings housing First Citizens and Scotiabank, the clock outside Nicholas Towers, the bMobile outlet, and even the Ciparini Statue on Independence Square in downtown Port-of-Spain.
Investigators say the offences carry serious penalties including life in prison, as stated in the Malicious Damage Act.
The act states: “ Any person who unlawfully and maliciously sets fire to any building, other than those specified in sections 3 to 5, belonging to the State, or to any city, borough, town, ward, parish, or place, or to any Court of Justice, or devoted or dedicated to public use or ornament, or erected or maintained by public subscription or contribution, is liable to imprisonment for life.”
Sgt Clarke and Cpl Masleir of the Port-of-Spain CID conducted the investigations which led to his arrest and charge.