The Mayor’s comments were in response to a question from the media seeking his reaction to the discovery of the body of Japanese masquerader and pannist, Asami Nagakiya, on the western end of the Queen’s Park Savannah on Ash Wednesday. The young woman was a regular visitor to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival and played pan with the Silver Stars Steel Orchestra for more than five years. She was actually clad in a bikini-type outfit when her body was found, and it was confirmed later that she had actually played in the band Legacy on Carnival Tuesday.
Yesterday’s protest gathering, which was made up of mostly women, some wearing Carnival costumes, assembled at the band stand, Woodford Square, obliquely opposite to City Hall at about 11 am, to participate in the action which was called, “Don’t be Vulgar, Mr Tim Kee” aimed at the Port of Spain Mayor. Many of the demonstrators spoke out against the Mayor’s statements, reinforcing comments that were written on crudely constructed placards. A similar demonstration took place outside the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in London. Several photos were posted on Facebook. One woman was shown pulling down her pants and displaying her thong underwear in front of the High Commission’s door. Another woman wore her underwear on the outside of her pants. They held up placards, with one sign stating, “Chauvinist mayor, resign now” and another, “Misogyny is vulgar.” Former Justice Minister Christlyn Moore, who was among the protesters, said shaming victims appeared to be Mayor Tim Kee’s speciality and it would not be accepted.
“As former Minister of Justice it is completely unacceptable (to me),” Moore said, “That we have a festival that not only encourages but worships expression, and somebody being attacked in a celebration that we have coined to celebrate our own ability to express ourselves, that that moment should be vilified by the mayor.” Moore said gender main streaming was required throughout the Government.
“A Ministry of Gender is a fantastic idea,” she added, “But each ministry needs to have a gender policy. The entire Government needs a gender policy.” The group was under the watchful eye of several police officers. At about noon, the participants, some with placards, marched in a line opposite to City Hall on Knox Street, while one of the organisers of the demonstration, Atillah Springer, delivered a letter to Tim Kee’s office. In the letter, from “concerned citizens and residents of Trinidad and Tobago” they called on the Government to revoke the Mayor’s appointment.
“We are deeply concerned that Mr Tim Kee is not interested in the safety of either local or foreign women in Port-of-Spain during or after the Carnival season,” the letter read in part. “Clothing does not cause violence. Dark streets do not cause violence...we are disturbed that Mr Tim Kee did not wait for conclusive evidence of the causes of the young woman’s death to make a statement, nor did he offer any sincere condolences to her family,” the letter stated.
The small gathering initially included fashion designers, Anya Ayoung Chee and Meiling.
One man carried a sign saying, “Nobody loves Raymond”, a play of words taken from the popular television series, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and on the Mayor’s first name, Raymond, to demonstrate how they felt about him.
While they marched, Juliet Davy, an employee at the Mayor’s office and political activist shouted and blamed the media for twisting the Mayor’s words.
She said she will never allow her daughter to leave her house dressed in a particular way.
“We have a responsibility to protect our property which is our body just as we protect our home,” she said. Another woman shouted to the group that they should go home and they were agents of the United National Congress UNC).
Speaking to Newsday after, Springer said she was really happy that people were interested and passionate about the issue of violence against women.
“If all of us aren’t involved in changing it then it will not change. We all have to take responsibility, all of us are affected every single day,” she said.
She said the main message in the letter delivered to Tim Kee’s office was that the vulnerable needs to be protected and not blamed for their vulnerability.
Japanese reporters and photographers also present to cover the demonstration. A reporter Hisashi Yamada from TV Asaik, which is based in New York City, said he totally disagreed with what was said by the Mayor.