Dancehall artiste Skillibeng is now perceived as a threat to concerts in St. Lucia after a person brandished a gun on stage during his performance over the weekend. Following the incident, senior government minister Dr Ernst Hilaire raised concerns about the event being permitted even though the police initially took a stance against it. The Onyx concert featured several other dancehall stars, but given the nature of Skillibeng’s songs, Hilaire said the police were against granting a permit.
Hilaire is the minister of tourism, investment, creative industries, culture, and information. He explained that, to his understanding, “the police took a position that they were not approving the show because the individual in question is someone who has been involved in singing and promoting music that glorifies crime and gun violence.” Hence, he expressed that someone needed to come forward with answers as to how the event was permitted when he and the police had discussed otherwise.
He told reporters that “the police were very clear that they were not going to approve it on the grounds of national security and events security.” Furthermore, they viewed the event last Saturday night as a threat to combating gang activity. It was considered to be a threat to the event itself due to the dissatisfying level of security. Hilaire added that even though the police decision was known by late Friday, someone gave the go-ahead for the event at the Darren Sammy Grounds, where the Whap Whap deejay and several other prominent local performers took the stage.
“We need to know who that person is and under what conditions they gave their approval. What assurances were given to that person to make that decision?” He asked. He continued by indicating that the event organisers must take responsibility for the man who carried a firearm on the stage. Pictures of the armed individual have been making the rounds on social media, and the promoters have issued a lengthy apology that explained that the armed man was a security guard. It also added that they are aware of the discomfort of everyone and added that there was high security to ensure the safety of both patrons and performers. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Philip Pierre of St Lucia has described the images as “alarming” and “concerning.”
According to Hilaire, the gun was not a standard firearm, and he was unsure whether it was authorised. Hilaire noted that it is forbidden to openly-carry firearms on stage in St Lucia. The police have subsequently decided that anyone who promotes or sings songs glorifying violence will not be allowed to perform in St Lucia. Additionally, Hilaire stated that if a promoter lies to the police, there will be a serious conversation about that promoter’s role in St. Lucia’s artistic community.
He elaborated that while the promoters claim the event was “incident free” because no shots were fired, a firearm openly carried on stage constitutes an incident. He further highlighted that the weapon was pointed at the crowd, leading him to question if the purpose of the gun was to fire at the audience if anything went wrong. Hilaire concluded by saying that the promoters involved would be held accountable.
Watch the video of PM Pierre and Minister Hilaire speaking about the incident below.