The House of Assembly got off to a dramatic start yesterday when the sister of Centreville MP Reece Chipman stood to her feet and shouted accusations at members of the governing party.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest had just stood to his feet to table an amendment to the value-added tax (VAT) legislation when the commotion began.
Before her outburst, the woman, identified as Fontella Chipman-Rolle, threw off her jacket to reveal a shirt that read #ChipmanStrong and hurled white wrist bands that read the same onto the floor of the House.
“I stand in protest against the leaders and the politicians of this country [who] continue to abuse and corrupt the laws of this land to rape the Chipman family of their heritage and steal from the Bahamian people,” she shouted.
“My grandfather was sworn into this Parliament 100 years to this day and we continue to do it generations later.
“Our land will be returned to us, not by you but by the God we serve. This system you think you have in place will be removed.”
Chipman-Rolle was Miss Bahamas 1992.
At the start of the sitting, House Speaker Halson Moultrie acknowledged the Chipman family, which is celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the election of their ancestor, H.N. Chipman, to Parliament.
He had to suspend the House for five minutes as the police sought to get the situation under control.
Chipman-Rolle was seated in the far right corner of the gallery, making it that much harder for officers to get to her.
“Chipman children deserve ski trips,” she shouted as she was being escorted out.
“Bahamian children deserve ski trips.
“…Change the system, change the system.”
When the House reconvened, Moultrie advised that Chipman-Rolle was taken into police custody and was banned from re-entering the precincts of the House for the remainder of the day.
He labeled the demonstration as a “criminally motivated intervention”.
The Chipman family has continually raised concerns online and in the media relating to their family’s land.
Following the conclusion of Parliament, Chipman said he supports everything his sister said.
“It was a surprise to me,” he told reporters outside the House of Assembly.
“However, I make no apologies for what she said because I believe in the same things that she believes in, which is justice and righteousness within Parliament and out.
“And I think at this time we have a lot of Bahamians that are frustrated with the way the system has not given them, not even a chance.
“Campaigning is one thing but when you come into the House of Assembly and you see them playing politics with the people within the assembly it’s even worse.
“For me, I can appreciate her position. I make no apologies for what she said because I do agree and appreciate exactly what she is saying.
“And sometimes it is very difficult when you are fighting a fight for the Bahamian people.
“It’s very hard to take those sorts of stances, but thank God we have someone that will do it.”
Chipman insisted that the issue is not solely about his family, but about all Bahamian families.
Asked about the possibility that his sister may be charged with a crime, Chipman said, “The House has its rules, countries [have] laws, and that possibility exists.
“But we have to fight. We have to fight for you, we have to fight for the younger people, we have to fight for the younger generation. It’s more to it than just being charged, it’s about charting a course for the next generation and for The Bahamas.”
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications