In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Mauritian Police Force performed its “duty” in a manner eerily reminiscent of a scene from the acclaimed gangsta rap biopic “Straight outta Compton”.
In the film, black urban youth band N.W.A. (Niggers With Attitude) were forbidden by a city ordinance from performing their protest song “F*ck tha Police” during a concert in Detroit. Frustrated that their right to freedom of expression was being violated since the controversial lyrics of their song merely “reflected their reality”, they performed it anyway. Immediately, the police stopped the concert to jeers from the audience and arrested the band members.
In Mauritius, the popular international DJ S.Q.L. was performing his set at Big Willy’s, a popular “restaurant, bar and night club” located in a commercial complex in Tamarin. At exactly 2am, the police raided the party and ordered the music to stop. Stunned organisers and promoters tried to plead with the principal officer on behalf of the audience to permit the event to continue. But the officer was adamant and shouted back at the top of his voice like an authoritarian father demanding obedience from his mischievous two-year old son. The police had apparently received a “noise complaint” and so the party was over. How convenient it was that the expert with the sound measuring apparatus was available to investigate a “spontaneous” complaint at such short notice.
As the police confiscated the mixing desks, many of the hundreds of disappointed party-goers took up the chant “What the f*ck?” If the police want the respect of the Mauritian youth then they need to learn to act respectfully; simply wearing blue uniforms is not sufficient in the 21st century. It is not the police’s duty to blindly enforce the letter of the law, they have significant discretionary powers and can permit relatively harmless transgressions or handle them in a more appropriate manner. How many times has a ministerial cavalcade been stopped for speeding?
Some questions deserve to be answered:
1. Why was Big Willy’s closed down whereas nearby Shotz, and other nightclubs in residential environments are always allowed to stay open? Have there never been other noise complaints? Such apparent arbitrariness leads to suspicions of political interference.
2. Why didn’t the police warn the organisers beforehand so that the party could be cancelled or re-located? This was not the first party at Big Willy’s and the Cyber Patrol Unit, whose original mandate was to protect children on-line and but now appears to persecute anyone who might inadvertently “humiliate” the police, must surely have noticed the extensive promotion of the event on facebook.
3. What will be the impact on tourism if random crack-downs continue? Visitors enjoy these parties as much as locals. Mauritius: c’est un plaisir, not a police state.
4. Why aren’t outmoded laws amended? The legislation regarding bars, nightclubs and events needs to be revised to reflect modern reality, not archaic patriarchy.
In the interests of Good Governance, aren’t the relevant authorities obliged to respond?