Rise Above: Suggestions to Stem Crime Wave

April 5, 2010

The community action group ‘Rise Above Bermuda’ [RAB] called a last minute meeting on Easter Sunday at the Victor Scott School saying they are “restating our public messages of peace and nonviolence. We are also not going to let one of our school grounds be saturated with the stain of blood and violence. We will not give up, we will never give up.”

RAB is run by a group of highly successful younger black males which includes brothers Dwayne, Wayne and Travis Caines, Dr Lou Matthews and Barclay Simmons.

Two of the founders: Wayne and Dwayne Caines

Two of the founders: Wayne and Dwayne Caines

Despite the last minute nature of the meeting, which was called with approximately 90 mins notice, there was quite a credible turnout. The attendees spanned various age and racial brackets, and all seemed very passionate about working to improve the issues facing the island. Bermuda Democratic Alliance chairman Craig Cannonier attended and when we asked why, he simply said “for Bermuda”.

Following an address from Dr Matthews [see below] the group discussed various solutions to stem the wave of violence that Bermuda is experiencing.

Dr Lou Matthews

Dr Lou Matthews

Various issues were discussed including reluctance of witnesses, the mobile command unit, policing in general, possible improvements in legislation, effect of the shooting on the children present that day, historical perspectives, and much more.

Plans for a “Good Friday Part II” this coming Sunday were also made, with the concept being to attempt to replace some level of normalcy for the neighborhood children, as well as send a statement that law abiding citizens will not hide away, and ‘give the gunmen the streets’.

Organizers discussed making it as fun for the kids as it can be, with free refreshments, fun castles and more. We will bring you an updated post on this event later in the week.

RAB defined two main goals:

  • To expand the work of community actions teams local schools and neighborhoods in areas directly affected by gang violence.
  • To propose policy and legislative solutions that can be implemented to immediately address the escalating violence.

Several suggestions were made that could be followed up on at a larger meeting:

  • Banning of tinted visors
  • Manning of mobile command centers
  • Public press identity protection of witnesses
  • Surveys of community policing needs etc.

A brief video snippet of the statement from Rise Above Bermuda, delivered by Dr. Lou Matthews:

The full statement follows:

Our prayers go out to the families of those who continue to be impacted by the gun violence that has rocked Bermuda over the last few months. The gruesome shootings and violence are bitter reminders that the work that was begun in earnest months ago by committed Bermudians must continue.

With each shooting, a piece of the moral fabric of this country is chipped away. Like so many of you here, we are drained as we stand here on the ground of my childhood playing field. We reflect on the senseless acts of the weekend and we know that there are no easy solutions. No magical wave of the wand can undo the damage that has been already done.

Yet, we would like to encourage you on this holiday weekend to not be weary in doing well. In these times that test our resolve, our communities need you more than ever. The Victor Scott school community needs you. We need you.

We came here this afternoon to restate, repeat, reclarify and reclaim our public messages of peace and nonviolence. We are here to make a bold statement that even now we still believe that there will soon be an end to this ongoing gang violence. We are here today because we refuse to let one our school grounds become saturated with the stains of blood and violence.

Rise Above, Bermuda first began its efforts to mobilize Bermudians from all corners to address the escalating gang violence with a series of actions focused on crime-monitoring, mentoring, counseling, intervention, prayer, and education. We were very much aware that even under the best of circumstances these efforts should not be seen as the immediate answer to peace. The journey of non-violence, peace and justice is a lifelong one that will require the tireless efforts of all Bermudians. With each act of violence, we must redouble our efforts and strengthen our resolve to get involved. We can do this by continuing to mentor young children in affected neighborhoods, be vigilant reporters of crimes, and offer our expertise and service to organizations in action and families in crisis. To this end, Rise Above, Bermuda continues its work. We will not give up. We will never give up.

We will rise above.

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