NEW YORK, USA – The Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to the United Nations, Camillo Gonsalves has said that his country will be seeking redress after he was arrested and handcuffed by a New York Police officer on Wednesday.
Gonsalves did not respond immediately to an I-Witness New request for comment late Wednesday night.
However, international media quoted the diplomat, son of SVG’s Prime Minster Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, as saying “We will be following up.”
“We will seek other forms of redress, but what form it will take, I can’t say,” Gonsalves further said, according to the reports.
Gonsalves said he was arrested although there was nothing new about what he did in trying to access his office on Wednesday, as he has done for the past five years.
“There’s never been an incident before,” he is reported as having told the Associated Press, explaining that the building where his country’s U.N. mission is located has extra security because Israel’s U.N. Mission is located there.
Reports say that the cop placed Gonsalves, who has diplomatic immunity, in handcuffed for alleged disorderly conduct after he walked through a barricade to get into his office building.
According to reports, Gonsalves, was returning to his office after lunch and stepped out of his official car, through a barricade in front of the building.
He was confronted by a police officer who asked “What do you think the barricades are there for?”
Gonsalves told the Associated Press that as he was walking towards the elevator, the cop ran into the building, “grabbed me by my neck and shoulders, spun me around and said, ‘Didn’t you see me talking to you?”‘
“You couldn’t have been talking to me,” Gonsalves said in reply to the cop, according to the reports.
The officer then asked for identification and when Gonsalves asked if he as under arrest, the officer replied: “Well you are now,” Gonsalves is reported as having told the Associated Press.
“At that point he handcuffed me, with assistance from other officers he called as a backup,” Gonsalves said, adding that other ambassadors told the cop that he was wrong to place Gonsalves under arrest, since, as an ambassador, he has diplomatic immunity.
“The officer, for the first time, inquired who I was,” Gonsalves said. “I told him. He called for his superiors. The U.S. State Department, as host country, was also called and they sent representatives.”
Gonsalves said that the NYDP’s initial position was that he was “disorderly, and something should be done because of my disorderly conduct”.
However, after talks with the State Department representatives, and the other diplomats, “the NYPD were persuaded to release the handcuffs, and I’m back in my office now,” Gonsalves said of the 20-minute ordeal.
“Separate and apart from any diplomatic immunities, I personally think the officer was wrong and committed an assault against me,” he said. “We will be following up,” Gonsalves said. “We will seek other forms of redress, but what form it will take, I can’t say,” Gonsalves further said even as he described the other officers who subsequently came to the scene as “very professional and very courteous”.
He further described State Department officials from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations as “exemplary”.