Posted by: alsys | June 28, 2009

Sign of the times?

“Stand-offs are situations of mutual and symmetrical threat, wherein the central parties face each other, literally and figuratively, across some key divide. Stand-offs engage committed adversaries in a frozen and exposed moment of interaction.” Robin Erica Wagner-Pacifici

The above definition could be used to describe the “mexican standoff” that occurred for 6 hours yesterday in St. Georges, which ended peacefully, thank God, or it could quite easily describe the events of the last couple of weeks… an impasse between the premier and thousands of bermudians.

The events of yesterday. According to various reports, sometime around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, a young man held his girl at gunpoint (possibly) inside a house in St. George’s with the police outside. The whos, whys and hows have not as yet been released, but we do know that this stand-off lasted for approximately 6 hours, at which time the young man surrendered to the police. It can be reasonably assumed that it had something to do with drugs or gangs as it appears that the police were investigating “a serious ongoing investigation” which then led to this stand-off. I think it’s a sign of the times in Bermuda that something like this, which while surprising was not shocking… at least not to me. It seems to be a steady progression of increasingly violent and deviant behaviours on the island over the last year and a result, it’s almost numbing. Don’t get me wrong, people are still upset and horrified. But there is almost this sense of resigned anticipation – what is coming next?

I actually first heard of the events of yesterday on one of the online forums. It was confirmed but with no real details by someone’s police contact. At first the rumour was that two police officers had been shot, that the Causeway had been closed and that shots had been fired. Needless to say, none of this was actually true (*cough* tsunami) but it goes to show how information passes in Bermuda, quickly and without any regard for the truth most of the time, lol. So on to facebook I go, hoping for more information and what do I see? People calling for those selfsame people (of which I am proud to have been one) who marched the last couple of weeks to protest the premier’s autocratic method of governing, to march on Government House. The reasoning being that since the Governor has control over internal security then he’s to blame for the gangs, drugs on the island, deviant behaviour… oh, and I have it on good authority that he shot JFK, too. So my question is this:

“Ask govt house what? How come the police are trying to respond as best they can to what is a social problem? Or why even after they catch people the courts continuously offer suspended sentences or abbreviated sentences? Or why we as the community refuse to get up and take some responsibility for what’s happening in our island?”

Every single time something like this happens, the first thing the government says is how they have no control over these events because the Police Service is under the Governor’s remit. Does no one there understand that when the Police become involved in a situation it is because things have already “popped off”? The government refuses to take any responsibility for this occurrences but if we had the social programs or a good education system, we wouldn’t find ourselves in this place as often as we do nowadays. Alternatively, the courts system are where this seems to fall down the most. Recently, there has been a proliferation of suspended sentences on what should be jailable offences, or the what is the mandatory sentences for serious offences by law is cut for various reasons, or even worse, people being released on parole before the legally required served time – just in time for them to re-offend, as too many do. I once heard about  a guy who was caught for GBH (grievous bodily harm), received the minimum five year sentence and was released in less than two years… six months later he was in custody for murder. The Police caught the man twice but it’s their fault that he did what he did? Or more to the point, that he had the chance to murder someone in less time than legally he should have even been allowed to apply for parole?? The government want the bermudian public to believe that they can only take credit for the good that happens in Bermuda but all the bad obviously is someone else’s fault. And the bermudian public are saying enough of the rhetoric.

It’s a sign of the times, a stand-off. The question is, who are the adversaries…


  1. A couple of years back I helped out a bit with an organisation called PACT – Parishes Achieving Change Together. I don’t think its functioning anymore, but I think it has some really promising ideas. If I recall right they figured that in order to really deal with the social problems of today the key was to build a stronger community at the local, parish level. Their focus was on building social programmes for the youth, as well as increasing the number and deepening the meaning of neighbourhood watches beyond simply keeping an eye on each others houses. The idea was to change the neighbourhoods from a mere collection of houses where people happened to live to a vibrant community where people interacted.

    Another thing they were keen on developing (I think) was social clubs for the youth, you know, a place were the teens could go and get tutoring help, play board games and sport (basketball, football, cricket) and gernally hang out in a safe and supervised environment. The theory was that this would give the youth something to do especially while the parents were still at work (the time between school letting the students out and parents knocking off at five), especially as the extended family system has long since mostly collapsed as a social net.

    I’m not sure why PACT wasn’t successful. I think one problem was they overextended too quickly, trying to establish in every parish and they didn’t really have enough people to cover them all. It would be better to start and focus on developing a grassroots community organisation solely in one parish at a time I think. And this should go a long way to preventing the further development of social problems I think.

  2. “It’s a sign of the times, a stand-off. The question is, who are the adversaries…”

    Rich vs Poor

    educated vs not as educated

    Elietes vs regular people

    mothers vs fathers in non reformed family court system, that does not support mediation or shared parenting

    Political party vs political party

    drug gang vs drug gang

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