11 January 2007

I Fought the Law...

As has quickly become a tradition here in Grenada, after the end of our exams, we decided on having a nice dinner at the Beach House, the best restaurant that we can find locally. It was, as always, a rousing success. I have even uploaded photos, which can be seen on my pictures page, of all the people who were there and you can tell how much fun we had.

I myself, feeling much better after all the issues with my stomach over the recent months, was so happy to be hungry and was more than ready to eat a decent meal that did not include the use of my microwave. If you're ever in the neighborhood (and you really shouldn't be!) try the seared tuna; it's out of control.

As there were twelve of us at dinner and it seemed that everyone on campus was celebrating on that same night, dinner took exceptionally long, but we all enjoyed ourselves and the time spent relaxing in each other's company. We told stories, took pictures, laughed, drank and ate until it was time to move onto a more suitable bar to accommodate our increasingly loud conversation. Those of us who remained until the end managed to pile into two cars (sitting on laps and squeezing wherever possible) and headed back toward one of our more favored bars near campus.

As luck would have it, I was in the front car, driven by one of my neighbors across the hall. As we traveled along 'Airport Road', the other car, or so we thought, came up behind us and started flashing the brights and driving erratically. Well, naturally, the carful of idiot students that we are, we decided to offer some less than polite gestures out the windows and through the back window of the car. After it became clear that our 'friends' were not going to pass us, we simply sped up toward campus and headed down the long road that takes us into SGU.

It was at this point we discovered that the car behind us was, in fact, not our friends, but a non-descript pick-up truck driven by a man dressed in fatigues and his friend in sweatpants and a cut-off black shirt. They rapidly overtook us, pulled in front of our car in order to stop us and demanded that the driver hand over all his information and that we all be detained! They also demanded that the driver exit the car to be searched by these two men.

Well, for those of you who have never been, Grenada is a third world country at best, and it's law enforcement, or more appropriately, lack thereof, is abysmal in its top form. These two men repeatedly refused to show identification and continued to berate everyone in the car for our 'disrespect', yet offered no reasons for having pulled us over and offered no proof that they were in fact, officers of the law. For all intensive purposes, this had the look of a tourist robbery and we were the prime targets; inebriated students with no recourse!

The boys immediately got out of the car to assist the driver while the girls got on their phones and began calling everyone they knew. We had the embassy, the SGU security department, our friends, some peoples' parents and just about the entire campus alerted to our situation within minutes. And still, these two men, continuously yelling and making demands, refused to identify themselves except to say that they were police and we needed to do what they said.

While we were arguing over our rights with the supposed officers, more disconcerting activities began happening around us: other cars began pulling up and joining in the discourse, which at this point turned into yelling; these "officers'" friends drove around us and completely surrounded the car, were walking around and just yelling to "arrest everyone." Meanwhile, no one had yet to show a badge and no one had yet to wear anything more identifying than mesh shorts and cut-off t-shirts. It was safe to say things were starting to get out of hand!

At this point, we had all exited the car in question and were waiting for the SGU security team to come help us sort out the situation. Finally, they arrived and, surprisingly, confirmed that all these men were, in fact, police officers. So, we had been fighting with them the whole time when we should have been obeying them - yet still, no IDs were shown.

We were instructed to drive to the nearest Coast Guard station where questions would be asked and we would find out the punishment for our actions, despite no one actually yet explaining what we had done to be pulled over! With SGU security in tow and friends on the phones, we piled back into the car and made our way to the station.

Our driver and one other person were taken to an office and I was left with four girls at the car, to be guarded by the men with shotguns and M-16s. We knew they weren't going to shoot us, but perhaps the overzealous guarding could have been avoided in order to not screw with our heads.

As it happened, the boys in the office were being apologized to by the captain of the police force for the poor way in which we had been treated. It turns out, we were right to ask for IDs and these men had far overstepped their bounds in trying to force our compliance. Outside, nothing had changed; we were not recipients of apologies nor did the force required to keep us near the car change. In fact, at one point, I was called into the garage, away from the four ladies, to be asked where we were going, as though the guy in an athletic shirt was holding court with me in the garage!

It was all obscene and so over-the-top as to almost be comical. Except that it was not comical at all and could have been avoided in the first place if they had produced identification (as required by Grenadian law) or had a police car, flashing lights, etc. We were escorted back to campus and rehashed the whole scenario over several drinks, laughed a little, yelled at each other a little and reminded ourselves that Grenadians will always resent everything we do, no matter if it's a simple matter of going to school or a more complicated matter of driving home from a restaurant.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man, i am a grenadian, and I understand what u said about the police not showing ID, but u should also have made sure it was your friends car that was following! also u say, what did u do? well in your own words, u described yourself as speeding, drinking, overloading your car, and driving erratically. and then of course the disrespect. Also you should know that for instance in the states regular people can dress in fatigues, but not in grenada, so when u see them dressed like that, they are officers! and last but not least, when you said, "Grenadians will always resent everything we do." what does that mean, i have many foreign friends.

10:47 PM  
Blogger maxwell's house said...

I've just caught up with your happeneings...I know i shouldn't say it, but man, what an intersting life you lead...great stories to tell your grandkids!!!
Keep em coming!!

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're quite lucky who and your friends didn't get charged. For one it's evident that you guys were drinking, cars were overpacked, and since you were overpacked it likely that you weren't wearing seatbelts. You are from a more developed country and you know for a fact that behaviour like that would be an arrestable offence. That you thought about the possiblity of an accident happening because of your drunk driving.? Have you lost a close friend or family member from a drunk driving incident. I think you should stop being so one sided and check the responsibility of you and your actions

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you blame them for their "disrespect" when they were shown no proof that these men were police? If the police couldn't even follow the law and produce identification, I don't see how they have any right to arrest anyone. Moreover, I think it's completely ridiculous that they were supposed to assume the men were police because they were wearing fatigues. You're telling me a Grenadian criminal who wants to impersonate a police officer so he can more easily rob people can't get his hands on some camouflage pants?

I agree that the students' behavior wasn't very responsible, but all the officers had to do was show ID and do things professionally and they would have been in the right. See, in the US police need to follow procedure when they arrest or detain or pull over someone, or else the charges will most likely be dropped.

6:42 PM  

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