Video: Police Commissioner’s Press Conference

December 2, 2016 | 32 Comments

“It is important for the public to be aware that there is a significant difference between peaceful, lawful protest and unlawful activity that threatens the democratic process,” Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva said.

Speaking at a press conference today, Commissioner DeSilva said, “This morning a group of persons gathered around the House of Assembly and commenced a protest. Police officers, who were already on scene monitoring the situation, advised those involved that action may be taken if they did not follow lawful instructions.

“Likewise, the police spoke with protest organizers to underscore the importance of a lawful, peaceful protest. Throughout the morning, in an effort to allow the opening of the House of Assembly, officers engaged with protestors warning them to desist from obstructing the entrances.

“Once it was announced that the House would sit today, police initiated positive action to open a path to the House. Officers approached the protestors that were blocking access, warned them that they were committing offences, and instructed them to desist.

“Immediately the crowd surged and some of the protestors assaulted the officers. Some officers deployed incapacitant spray in a proportionate response to disperse the crowd and to create a safe separation. The decision to de-escalate was taken after it was announced that the House would not sit today.

“It is important for the public to be aware that there is a significant difference between peaceful, lawful protest and unlawful activity that threatens the democratic process.

“It is regrettable that this incident has occurred. However, it is clear that there were elements amongst the protestors who were determined to confront the police who were acting in the lawful execution of their duties.

“The Bermuda Police Service is alive to the concerns that capture the minds of our community. We respect and uphold the constitutional rights of everyone to free speech, and to gather and peacefully protest.

“But we remind protestors and organizers that their actions must be lawful, and they must not intrude on the rights of others or impede the rule of law.

“Finally, our investigators are reviewing video footage that was captured today to identify offenders with a view to preparing files for the DPPs review. We have received one complaint from a member of the public against a police officer, and that matter will also be investigated.”

We will have additional coverage of this matter as the evening progresses, and in the meantime you can see our live updates here, and all our coverage of today’s protest here.

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Comments (32)

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  1. John says:

    What a disgrace and shame on paid politicians using folks. Lots of political careers up in flames , all politicians need to have debate skills to voice their concerns lawfully in parliament to be frank Mr Burt and Chris Furbert organized it The instruction they gave was to march on parliament

  2. Terry says:

    Bought time.
    Thanks to the guys that stood their ground but still had to use discretion dealing with paid retireies and weekend wariors.

    Can’t wait to see them in the lines at the grocery…….

  3. wondering says:

    bermuda is a place where if you don’t look like me than i am not supporting you.

    if yu look like me, if i don’t agree with you then i fall into the group above.

    if you don’t look like me and you agree with me, you are just ok but don’t stand next to me.

    if you don’t look like me and we disagree, you are the devil and i will fight you.

    if i believe what someone tells me and you fall in any of the ‘anti’ groups above – i will resist!

    all of the above groups are all Bermudians against bERMUDIANS….GO FIGURE

  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.

    • Mercy says:

      To be fair, this was really just another laughable day in Bermuda’s attempts at instigating unnecessary drama for our already shameful political grounds. This won’t be remembered in any history books. It’ll be remembered over coffee as if it were a joke, and I’m sure in a few weeks it won’t even be a worthwhile conversation topic for most Bermudians.

      • Hey says:

        Yes I agree, a total joke. One only had to watch the body language of the PLP MPs that were on the scene, to realize that they were there to stoke the flames.

    • Terry says:

      And well planned and orchestrated by Martha and the Vendettas……………..

      The difference between Hate and Haiti are “i’s”

      Open them you fools.

  5. 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!!

  6. smh says:

    Lofl everything the BPS did today was pointless…Not enough dumb cops to go against the People lol! Give up Milkman! Give up BPS. #Politricks #bermudastrong #BPSequalJOKES

  7. Watcher says:

    Were the police actions heavy handed? Possibly but please stop with the peaceful protest lies. I stood today and watched some dred wail on the cop with a cedar walking staff for no reason the dread whacked him 5 or 6 times On his legs, hit him so hard he broke his cedar stick. Luckily for the dread the big guy just gripped him and locked him up, if it had been me I’d have peppered his a$$ but if the cop had done that we’d have been screaming about police brutality. Right is right there was no need for that today especially with that big fella who most folks really like. I hope he’s ok.

    • Ride says:

      We need to protest within the law. I don’t see how the Police were heavy handed.

      They talked with protesters repeatedly explaining to them that they could not block the entrance.

      Protesters would not move.

      They walked down to clear a path only directly in front of the gate. They did not attempt to clear any other area.

      All protesters, those few in front of the gate and those all along the sidewalk, surged at them. Items were swung at the Police.

      Police targeted select protesters with pepper spray to break it up with some near to those targets getting some.

      I think the Police response was reasonable. We need to protest within the law.

  8. mmm says:

    Was there any opportunity to re-develop, or renovate the Airport years ago ? Or were there so many capital projects going on with the expectation we would continue to enjoy a robust economy, and not expect a recession that has lasted several years. Could 20 to 30 million dollars in renovations carry the Airport for another 5 to 10 years ?

  9. Former Union Member says:

    Unfortunately the incident escalated yesterday…probably due to actions on both sides, police and protesters. However I cannot see how blocking access for our elected officials to conduct ‘the people’s business’ can be viewed as a peaceful protest.
    Then, inevitably, the political stick was used and all the buses and ferry’s were canceled. It cost me $20 to take a cab home.
    I happen to agree that the airport project as designed is too big, too expensive and should be scaled back. But I am sick and tired of a small group of our citizens constantly disrupting the daily lives of the majority.

  10. Rhonda says:

    Definition of civil disobedience
    : refusal to obey governmental demands or commands especially as a nonviolent and usually collective means of forcing concessions from the government

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Accept they weren’t all peaceful now were they. And the point of democracy is to come to a decisions with reasoned debate, not mob rule. The PLP have failed at reasoned debate on this matter, not just because of numbers in the house, but because all documentation related to the redevelopment, when read in their entirety, do not support the PLP narrative. So in face of their failed reasoning, they are stirring their supporters to mob rule. The PLP are failing democracy.

  11. Rhonda says:

    America 1966, any different from Bermuda 2016..

    “Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against black people. All of these efforts have been answered by more repression, deceit and hypocrisy.”

    • bluwater says:

      You really are one deluded political pawn if you think building an airport is repression.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      The airport redevelopment has nothing to do with race, it has to do with replacing a critical infrastructure that is so far past it lifespan. The PLP’s bandaid approach will cost taxpayers more money than the OBA’s CCC/AECON deal, both in the Horst term and in the long run, jeopardizing the government’s ability to maintain it’s programs like social service and education. If you actually read all documentation, the agreement, the emails, the schedules… all in their entirety, you would see that there are many holes deliberately left in the PLP narrative in order to misrepresent what is actually going on. The PLP don’t want reasoned debate on this issue, they want mindless mob rule

  12. Will says:

    The police did a good job. Tired of hearing people say BPS started violence. The stupidest comment I’ve heard is that the violence only happened because they sent riot police which ‘riled’ up the crowd…I’m sorry but was the crowd a bunch of sissy children. If you see riot police heading your way you move! Plain and simple..only this mentality means you stay and cause a ruckus. Shame on the protesters who turned it violent.

  13. No laughing matter says:

    You were instructed by the police to move and not block the entrance to the house. You refused police orders, now face the consequences. Don’t come crying foul on the police. You know darn-skippy well that when the police instructs you to do something, you comply. Same as in traffic. If the police instructs you to stop your vehicle, do you stop or do you keep on driving? There was no difference here. An order is an order. You were given an instruction by the police to move from the entrance because you were breaking the law by obstructing the democratic process and by denying other people their right to perform their duties. I saw the videos, so stop with the peaceful protest excuses. Stop with the selective amnesia. There were some clear instigators in that crowd who are nothing but trouble, yet the PLP and BIU have the nerve to ask the police to exercise restraint. How about the PLP and BIU make the instigators stand down and get cracking? Leave it to the genuine protesters with no hidden agenda to carry on with their right of free speech in a LAWFUL manner.

    The best thing from now on is police officers standing guard at the entrance of the house (the gate and pathway to the house) 24/7 until things calm down. Also barricades must be setup so protesters can stand a short distance AWAY from the entrance to the house.

    • stunned... says:

      i agree. i support protests that are non-violent,respectful and protected within the framework of a democratic society.

      curious as to the PLP’s definition of peaceful protest. does it entail obstruction of passage, assault on police, failure to obey police orders?

  14. And There's Hope says:

    So where the hell is the riot squad when all these shootings occur, I would say they would need to be out in full gear for these situations a peaceful protest and they turn up?Smh….could’ve potentially turned very ugly had the protesters turned an ugly face toward the gang squad in blue….

    • Onion says:

      It wasn’t a peaceful protest. If you watch the video the protesters had turned an ugly face already.

      • Ben says:

        They turned an ugly face AFTER the police had already showed up in full riot gear. You’re deliberately spreading lies and misinformation about what actually went down.

        The fact you’re trying to justify a white police officer pepper-spraying senior black citizens without any reasonable provocation says everything that needs to be said about you as a human being.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      I’m sorry, but how many gang bangers call ahead to let the police know they are going to go on a shooting just so they can be ready to show up in riot gear??? And by the way, several of those ‘peaceful’ protestors did get ugly with the police, and worst response they got was a little pepper spray, your right it cold have gotten ugly, but all the police responded in a far fairer way than some of those protestors did, to keep it from getting ugly.

  15. Riley says:

    It strikes me that Derek Burgess’s actions and words – people with ammunition and all that – must be viewed in light of where the Commission Of Inquiry over TCD emissions, Dame Lois Browne Evans Building, Port Royal, etc seems to be heading.

  16. Onion says:

    This should be anticipated. In future, no police. Just video people breaking the law by blocking access to the MPs then prosecute them for the actual illegal acts.

    Then hold Parliament somewhere else.

  17. Riley says:

    It’s not really about an airport now, is it?

  18. Dark Star says:

    The person swatting with the umbrella is more to blame for starting this than anybody else

  19. What a sad day in Bermuda. We havent matured in 39 years!! The trouble makers today were kids 39 years ago and 39 years from now a new bunch of trouble makers would have grown from this disturbance. When are we going to learn that our youth are watching and emulating is grown ups!! I bet most if not all have turned their thoughts from the airport situation to the disgusting disrespectful march. The world is watching us and if our economy folds in half we have nobody to blame but our own hateful arrogant prejudice selves.

  20. Y-Gurl says:

    Cover my a$$ conference…..anybody fooled??

  21. 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.

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