Premier Dunkley: This Cannot Become The Norm

December 2, 2016

“Today our democratic process was disrupted for a second time this year. This cannot become the norm,” Premier Michael Dunkley said, adding that “it is imperative that we find more productive methods of communicating and solving our disagreements.”

In a statement this evening, Premier Dunkley said, “Today has been a very difficult day and I’m saddened by the events that have unfolded. As Premier, today’s events have caused my colleagues and I great distress.

“Images of our seniors and members of our public being pepper sprayed is not something that should be happening in Bermuda. We recognise that it is our democratic right to protest, so it pains me greatly that the end result of today’s protest impeded democracy.

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“I’m aware that members of the public engaged in the demonstration were injured. I wish each of them well and a speedy recovery. I’ve often spoken about tolerance, respect and understanding in dealing with the difficulties that legislators must work through.

“I appreciate that the Airport Bill is a contentious bill and we don’t all agree.However the House of Assembly is a place reserved for all parties to share their views through healthy and constructive debate.

“Today our democratic process was disrupted for a second time this year. This cannot become the norm. It is imperative that we find more productive methods of communicating and solving our disagreements.

“I am urging all Bermudians to use this weekend to reflect on what took place today. Certainly I and my colleagues will do the same. I can confirm that I have had discussions late today with the Acting Governor and Commissioner of Police with a view of gaining some clarity and understanding of today’s events.

“I continue to have faith in Bermuda and our people. And I am confident that we can collectively find a solution and bring peace and calm to our Island.”

You can see our live updates here, and all our coverage of today’s protest here.

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Comments (44)

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    So why was the BPS not out in force much earlier? At the first hint of the mobs intention to shut down the HOA the BPS should have been there maintaining clear passage onto the grounds & arresting without hesitation anyone attempting to do so, especially those with the bullhorns inciting others to break the law.

    • Positive Pessimist says:

      Look, the protesters should not have been blocking the House, HOWEVER, what the police did was sheer stupidity-there is no other word for it. Nowhere in the democratic world would you see riot police just march in before there was even a riot. They then CAUSED a riot! They were outnumbered and under-armed, although thank God for that because Heaven help us if they had more lethal weapons at their dispersal. No matter what you think of the protesters, this was pure foolishness. If the riot police did come, they should have stood at a distance observing instead of acting like Moses parting the Red Sea. All they did was make people angrier and escalate an already tense situation.

      Again, not defending the protesters but I can’t believe someone actually authorized this. Now these people with be back with their brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, godchildren, neighbours-you name it! The police action should NOT have happened!!!

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        Likewise, the protest should not have happened, it is being incited for purely political motivation, in the face of more and more clarity to a project that is being demonstrated to be a better deal than we might get any other way. Rather than standing in front of a gate because someone says so, more people need to read the entiretyof what is available and understand how it will work for our needs, rather than just accept carefully edited snippets of what is available from the person telling you to stand in front of the gate.

      • Izzypop says:

        The police were shoved and pushed first. Hit with an umbrella. Cursed and cussed out. Pls need to get the facts. They had no business blocking the house. U brake the law you pay the consequences. Some of those protesters came armed for a fight. So let’s call it as it is.

        • Positive Pessimist says:

          Yes, because they marched right into the middle of a crowd! Nowhere do riot police do that. They were then surrounded and acted out of panic. Think of the images you see on t.v. with huge riots in the U.S. The police form a line at the outskirts and stand there as a sort of barrier. They ensure they have an escape route. They push the crowd back while formed in a line and stick together in that line. What they do NOT do is march right into the MIDDLE of a crowd with no escape route and no way for backup to assist, especially considering that the crowd sharply outnumbered them.

          The sad thing is that the police were only doing as they were instructed-they are human beings with their own opinions on the matter but have to do as told by their superiors. I can’t really blame them for the way they reacted because they were outnumbered and in a perilous situation-they then went into survival mode. I am questioning the way those at the top who instructed this thing to happen the way it did. There’s talk of MP’s resigning-we need to add the Commissioner to that list.

        • reality says:

          no they wasnt i was there… so stop lying. and clearly there was plenty of video footage to agree with me i have my own footage to prove it

      • ken says:

        OBA NEED TO FORCE THE UNIONS INTO REVEALING THEIR FINANCIALS……THEIR MEMBERS DESERVE TO KNOW WHERE THEIR DUES AND PENSION MONEYS HAVE BEEN SPENT ON….

    • It’s been the norm since you have been Government.

  2. Warlord says:

    Don’t let them detract from the big picture Mr Premier,don’t back down on this.You are the elected government by the majority

    • Ben says:

      No, he isn’t. The people who made up the original OBA party when they were voted into power have long departed. Mr. Dunkley has repeatedly proven that he doesn’t give one whit about the Bermudian people, and by supporting him, it’s clear you don’t either.

    • Positive Pessimist says:

      Sadly, not for long. Do you actually think they’ll get back in? ‘Fool me once’-you know the rest…

    • Honestly says:

      Guess what? I’m sure the majority regrets voting for change. My foot. Who wants this government to
      represent them? Selfish! Law changing! Non transparent! Selling Bermuda to the highest bidder! Sad actions they called change!!!!!

  3. Hmmm says:

    Time for him to step down as Premier.

    • jt says:

      We already have a couple hundred people deciding whether Parliament opens and what elected officials.may or.may not debate. Now they’re going to decide who should be premier? No.

    • almost says:

      For what possible reason? Mob rule? That is not how democracy works. You have your chance at the ballot box come next election, until then, protest by all means, but stay within the law or suffer the consequences. It really is that simple.

    • frank says:

      it is clear that Dunkley can not handle this job and neither can bob
      so mike will have to call john again to come and sort things out
      this government has no idea how black people in this country feel.

      • Jussayin says:

        In my opinion I feel that the PLP is only for the “black” ppl of this island. That is how they swing their votes and tbh the PLP along with some of their supporters cause a lot of unnecessary racism. Believe it or not a lot of white ppl aren’t racist at all. But as a white person I feel the racism is just as bad towards us. I remember growing up going to get my smokes and all I hear is ” what the f you doing around here white boy”…etc it’s disgusting. My point is racism will continue to be bad if both parts are racist. It’s 2016 like ffs can we not all move along and work together. Some ppl only vote for PLP because it’s the “black” party and some ppl vote for the other because it’s the only other and it’s not just for the “black” ppl it’s for both in my opinion.

        • Positive Pessimist says:

          Do you think black people haven’t heard the same? I was at an upscale country club, right here in Bermuda (which I wish I could name), and was called the ‘n’ word by two white men. Verbatim, what they said was “Are we seeing things? Is that a n****r? What is that n****r b**ch doing here?” After that, my memory blanked out from sheer shock at what I was hearing. Not only was I a ‘n****r’, but a b**ch as well? They didn’t even know me! I am NOT racist, my husband is white and he heard them and confronted them, saying I was with him and it was too bad if they had a problem with it. I couldn’t believe I was in Bermuda-it was like I was in the deep South. There are tons of white people saying nasty things about black people, it’s just that they don’t usually do it to our faces, they usually say those things when we aren’t around-something else my husband has told me (and which he defends against, btw).

        • gargoyle wings says:

          You have no clue what racism is smh

          • Jussayin says:

            I’m not trying to say I do I’m just simply asking everyone to finally come together and act as civilized people where color doesn’t matter. You seem to feel differently and I can forgive what has been done in the past (not by the majority of us who are here) but I can promise you I’m not racist

      • Kathy says:

        It is true. I am a white Bermudian and I really feel for the black population with the OBA in power. There is such an incredible disconnect between white and black people in Bermuda. The black Bermudian population has a right to express what they are feeling and they feel very strongly that this airport deal is selling Bermudians short and no one is taking the time to sit down a listen to their valid concerns. It is typical of the OBA to push it off and the OBA is just pushing full steam ahead without taking the time to listen. It is the only method that the current government takes and it is very bullish. Agreed, they have been elected to do the job but have some consideration for how strongly people feel about something and address it. Don’t just sweep it under the rug hoping it will go away. They take a controversial stand on something and then fluff everything off as if it is not important and go ahead anyway. That is NOT how you should run a country. Everyone should have a say and the government should LISTEN!

  4. Vote for Me says:

    Today’s demonstration will be recorded as a pivotal moment in Bermuda’s history.

    Beyond the obvious negative optics of deploying the riot squad and use of pepper spray on the anniversary of the 1997 riots, the protest is a stark reminder of how little progress has been made in Bermuda over the past 39 years!

    Add to that the contrasting comments on the evening news of a white resident’s support of the airport (stating that Bermuda needs the airport at all costs and the protesters were breaking the law) and comments from BIU President Chris Furbert (black resident) emphasizing that protestors had a constitutional right to protest.

    A political significance of the protest and riot police is that it is a stark lesson for Bermuda’s young people (anyone less than 40) about enduring real risk to get what you believe is right.

    It is no secret that many young people are not engaged in Bermuda’s political activities and do not easily relate to ‘stories’ from their older parents and grandparents.

    Well, after today, they do not have to rely on stories of Bermuda’s past. They can relate to their own experiences if they were at the protests today or the more immediate recollections from their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles etc that were at the protests today.

    Bermuda has 7 days to demonstrate lessons learned from today before the House reconvenes on Friday December 9th…

    All eyes are on us.

    • Positive Pessimist says:

      You mean 1977.

      • reddamtibi says:

        Yes we all know what they meant ass…

        • Positive Pessimist says:

          Um, there are people reading this forum who are young or not Bermudian who would NOT know. If you’re going to post something, especially with dates, it should be accurate. Someone could google ‘Bermuda 1997 riots’ and see nothing and then think the poster made it all up, when it was a very real event. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re the same person posting under another email address because why get so angry just for someone clarifying a date? Someone may want to look it up, so the details should be correct. You’re an ass for ASSuming that everyone would automatically know.

  5. ian says:

    Oba puppets smh you are all alike. Like that woman said “build the airport at any cost” where is her brain? Must be stuck somewhere

  6. A Amith says:

    It was suppose to be a peaceful protest but Jason Hayward was not peaceful. He was pushing and acting the fool. This should not be taken lightly and the police should not have been hit and pushed around. Only after did the police use pepper spray. Wake up Bermuda. PLP should be held accountable and David Burt should sit down. Shame on him and crazy Chris Furbert.

  7. Vote for Me says:

    A dangerous narrative that is developing from comments attributed to the Deputy Governor, Premier and Police Commissioner is that the protestors caused the escalation. I hope that does not form the basis of their preparation for next Friday!

    To paraphrase MP Crockwell, today’s events should have been foreseen and therefore prevented.

    It is clear from any objective review of the various recordings of today’s events that the deployment of the riot police caused the escalation. To his credit, Chris Furbert firmly rebukes any protestors that ‘act out’ at protests.

    Let me hasten to add that there was a natural conflict with the protest because Speaker Horton, and by extension Premier Dunkley, has a duty to ensure that the weekly sitting of the House proceeds as scheduled. In that context, an agreed one week recess might have helped to calm the situation and provide more time for constructive discussion with MP Burt.

    In the words of Larry Burchall at the conclusion of the Thursday forum, in times of need, Leaders Lead! Bermuda needs the Premier to demonstrate more appropriate leadership at this pivotal moment for Bermuda. Ironically, former Premier Cannonier might be a good resource for the current Premier.

    A lesson from today is that relevant Officers need to rethink their crowd control strategies. To start, the call for a demonstration was obvious after Thursday’s town hall meeting. A basic preparation would have allowed for at least one ‘safe passage’ into the House grounds, using barricades and manned officers. This would have then been a secure access for politicians and any necessary staff.

    Given the likely racial makeup of the demonstrators, more thought can also be given to the officers assigned to secure the grounds, especially the senior officers. Familiar faces tend to be more successful is resolving disputes.

    We have 7 days to learn from today’s events!

    The ‘authorities’ cannot take the easy way out and blame the protestors for the escalation. Instead, they have a duty of care to the protestors, attending officers, MPs and Bermuda at large to be better prepared.

    Assuming that there will be a similar protest with potentially double the numbers next week, is the answer to deploy the Regiment in addition to the riot squad? CLEARLY NOT!!

  8. What the Premier needs to clearly understand is that it will only escalate and get extremely worse, if he and his government is hell bent on not listening to the people.

    The O.B.A is hell bent on thinking they can treat the majority any old way they want, to satisfy the desires of the elite who have more to gain over the deals that are being presented, from The America’s cup to the airport deal.

    We can find 77 Million dollars to finance the America’s cup, but cant take the same approach to borrowing to accomplish a national project that will benefit us for years to come, instead we sell our soul’s to the Canadians, who will benefit over 35 years to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions.

    Who will benefit from our air space as well, a question that is yet to be answered by this government, were does that revenue go , if we are to side with the Canadian’s in taking over the airport.

    Finally, Mr. Dunkley you say this can not become the norm, well news bulletin, this is not the norm, because what is brewing is far worst then what we are presently experiencing and guess who is mostly responsible for the civil unrest, (YOU). so the real problem is your administration.

    Either you listen to the people or face the tune of what you create, and in no way am i suggesting violence of any kind, but you and your colleagues are not leaving the majority with much choice, when your command is allowing the police to attack innocent people with force, when the protest was peaceful

    Get out of office and give someone that is more qualified to handle the affairs of our country in a more professional manner, the opportunity to make the decisions that will be in favor of the majority, regardless of their political affiliation.

    • Izzypop says:

      They listened. The people want jobs. This was a way to get pple working. Oh well

      • @ Izzypop, Get people working at what expense and at what loss. Be for real, we all know we need a new airport and that it will help ease the unemployment in the construction industry, but not at the expense of loosing our airport to a foreign entity for a period of 30 plus years with no guarantee that we get it back before the Canadians decide to sell it off to another foreign country, and even if that sounds far fetched, we still loose millions of dollars in revenue for the 30 plus years, and who the hell is going to collect all the revenue that we presently get for our air space, I may have dropped out of school at the age of 14 going 15 but I am know dumb ox. so get the facts before you make a conclusion that sounds as lame as the one you have posted.

  9. Lone Wolf says:

    When America sneezes, Bermuda catches a cold. There are protests and race riots all over America and so our fellows feel left out and need some attention. Plus … Friday … three day weekend…. maybe four to those going to court on Monday…

    • Real Deal says:

      If America had done more protest like this when bush was in power going to war the world would not be in the state it is in right now. there would be no rescission.

      • Noncents says:

        @ Real Deal

        You clearly know very little, not that your spelling of recession gave it away.

        President Clinton was in large part responsible for deregulation that lead to the banks behaving the way they did. The war had very little to do with the recession.

  10. Izzypop says:

    I say forget the airport. Don’t even fix the broken issues at it. Let it fall to pieces. Let the workers work in unsafe conditions. And when the plp get back in. And they will. They can deal with it. I can already hear the grumbling by those protesting the new airporg

  11. Will says:

    I feel sorry for him. If you talk to dunkley you can actually tell he is sincere in what he wants to accomplish for the island. Sadly there are elements here that will attempt to thwart everything the oba does no matter how good it will be for bermuda. Even if they wanted to legalise cannabis there would be a protest from the same people because it wasn’t their idea. David Burt was responsible for this mess yesterday…it is clear as day it’s what he wanted and therefore he must take some responsibility for the chaos he and his party cronies incited.

    • reddamtibi says:

      Will, if it was so good just reveal all relevant info…it really is that simple.

  12. swing voter says:

    who did what, said what and when is on video. I cannot support the protesters illegal behavior nor the police action allegedly on orders of an ambitious senior officer that obviously underestimated the results of his decision. Law and order was the real loser thanks to some lawmakers and trade unionist heads who will pay the legal price of their foolish behavior caught on video!

  13. Tyad says:

    I hope you all heard what he said and know what it means. After he gave his “heart felt” comments he said this is the second time this year the democratic process has been interrupted and “it cannot become the norm”. Clearly he’s going to either prevent you from doing it again or if you do, he’s going to use more force

  14. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    What happened to the feasibility study into the future.

    What happened to ” Bermuda is another world”.

    Airports are a good idea for big cities where it is cold wet and windy .

    In less than 10 years airport buildings will be an obsolete thing of a by gone era, like the one at Darrel’s island.

    I can wait to get out of some of the big Monsters.

    Our Visitors if they could,would get of the plane, jump in a taxi ,and go to the beach, they did not pay to come to an airport,a glorified customs and immigration shed.

    Frankly none of us do .

    Government admit your mistakes and lets move on.

    we are already a debtor nation, please no more.

    The loss of revenue results in increase taxes.

    Nothing is free. Canada will own us.

    If it looks like a skunk, smells like a skunk ,its a skunk !

  15. cromwell says:

    How about listening to voices in the community for the resignation of the Minister of National Security and his PS.

  16. ImJustSayin says:

    A word of advice for all those who wanna go back on Monday. Go and get some protective goggles from the hardware store a helmet and a Respirator for tear gas.

  17. Mary Mary says:

    All I want to know is “What happened to the tendering process?” How do we know that this is the best deal for Bermuda? Why didn’t Government put this out to an auditing and accounting firm like KP&G or Deloitte, have them look this over, look at all the clauses, limitations and the like and then advise government and our people as to their findings. What the hell are the OBA doing? Time and time again they choose the wrong way forward. No one is saying that we don’t need a new airport, the question remains, What happened to the tendering process? If you had other companies bid then show us their findings. I think that Deloitte did come back after their own independent study of this contract that in their opinion it was not in the best interest for BDA to move forward with this deal. There were too many gray area’s.
    Listen up OBA, you speak of TRANSPARENCY? you have been as clear as mud on this whole debacle. Why the rush? Lets have honest and clear dialog with the residents of BDA and once the facts are out for all to see then a decision gets made.