Two directors of Save The Bays, the environmental advocacy group, have asked for police protection after a rally in support of a Freedom of Information Act was disrupted on Friday night in downtown Nassau by what they claim was “a bought and paid-for mob”.
Fred Smith and Joseph Darville said last night in a statement that they fear for their lives after allegedly being targeted by aggressive groups of young men holding menacing and defamatory banners bearing their names and faces.
The rally, in Charlotte Street, was held in conjunction with a number of community partners, including the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce. “What happened on Friday night was disgusting,” Mr Smith said. “A peaceful gathering in support of freedom of information was nearly hijacked by a bought and paid-for mob sent there to intimidate and cause trouble.”
Mr Smith claimed it was not the first time this had happened. “Considering the increasingly sinister tone of their messages, many of us are now very afraid. We call on the Commissioner of Police to intervene and protect us before someone gets hurt.”
According to Mr Darville, a group of men, on a flatbed truck blaring music, arrived carrying banners but were turned away by a senior police officer. However, they returned and the Save the Bays director confronted them.
“I pointed to my own face on their banners, and told them there is no way they could know what we stood for and be there protesting against us,” he said. “In the end, these young men admitted they had no idea what it was all about. Many of them dropped their signs, even before police again asked them to leave.”
Mr Darville said some of the men claimed to have been asked to attend the protest by individuals working for fashion designer Peter Nygard, who has a long-running dispute with his neighbour, Louis Bacon, a Save The Bays supporter for which Mr Smith is the lawyer. Some wore shirts and others waved placards bearing slogans about Mr Bacon. At one point, star Bahamian boxer Taureano Johnson appeared at the scene.
Friday night police confirmed that the men had no permit to protest.