Forgiveness After Being Wrongfully Imprisoned

November 14, 2017 | 29 Comments

A powerful story of forgiveness will be delivered to local students, as the Chain Reaction Movement – an anti-bully, pro-kindness programme implemented in schools across the Island — will welcome Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins to Bermuda this week.

Mr McGee, who was wrongfully imprisoned due to the actions of a crooked police officer, Mr Collins, will be sharing their story with hundreds of students in six local schools, CedarBridge Academy, The Berkeley Institute, Dellwood Middle School, Sandy’s Secondary Middle School, Northlands Primary School and Impact Mentoring Academy.

Mr McGee and Mr Collins, are two men from Michigan, whose story went viral after being featured in a CBS News report and on the Steve Harvey Show in 2016. They are also the co-authors of a book, ‘Convicted’.

Tyaniel Darrell, programme coordinator for Chain Reaction Movement, said they invited the two men to the Island, as part of their ongoing effort to share real-life stories from people here and overseas to impact the lives of students on these shores.

“We recognize that there is a lot of hurt in our community, in relation not only to gang violence, but due to family dynamics and dysfunction,” Mr Darrell explained. “We hope this message of forgiveness will help those affected in our community to begin the healing process.

“Our goal is for students to leave the assemblies this week, with a practical understanding of what forgiveness is. Forgiveness can be defined as the act of giving up resentment or to grant relief from payment of a perceived debt that is owed to us.

“Students are encouraged to acknowledge relationships in their own lives that need forgiveness. Not just for the person who has wronged them, but for their own healing and overall wellbeing as well.”

Students present at this week’s assemblies will be challenged to not only listen to the message, but apply it to their lives.

“Firstly, they will be encouraged to step forward and acknowledge relationships in their lives that require forgiveness,” Mr Darrell continued.

“Secondly, there is a social media challenge where students post with the hashtag #letitgobda, in which they can creatively express their decision to choose forgiveness. We do this in hopes that we can start a movement of forgiveness in our community.”

As explained in international media reports, Mr McGee was “minding his own business” when a police officer accused and arrested him for dealing drugs.

The officer, Mr Collins, admitted years later to making up the story and falsifying those reports.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. Mr McGee had spent four years of his life behind bars and admitted his “only goal” upon release was to seek Mr Collins and “hurt him”.

However, his faith intervened. Mr McGee developed a strong relationship with God, which led him to work at faith-based employment agency Mosaic.

As fate would have it, at his new job he ended up working side by side with Mr Collins, who had served 18 months in jail for falsifying many police reports, planting drugs and stealing.

The two became more than just co-workers; they eventually became good friends. Today, they travel throughout North America sharing their story of forgiveness.

Chain Reaction Movement was designed to combat bullying and potential violence in schools by promoting kindness, respect and understanding.

A registered charity, the programme was modelled after Rachel’s Challenge, which was formed in honour of Rachel Joy Scott, one of the victims of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999.

For more information on how you can support, visit www.crmovement.org.

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Comments (29)

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  1. aluminatI says:

    Hell no…

    • S Rego, MA (Dist), BA (Hons Merit) says:

      Agreed. I’m God-fearing too but I still wouldn’t forgive his @$$. The damage was already done – McGee will never get those 4 years back.

      What about the officer’s role morality to not abuse power?

      The message of forgiveness can be taught in literally *any* other way, not just one extreme story. This is not the message to send to youth.

      • sage says:

        Dirty cop gets free trip and is paid to tell people how corrupt he is, any case he ever touched should be annulled and his victims re-compensated, he even got less time than the guy he framed, what a joke. Great lesson for the youth.

    • Same way I feel about Slavery and de Civil Rights Era.

    • Me says:

      Forgive but I will not forget! Friends no Sir!!!

    • I saw a interview with these two men earlier this year and I thought then, as I do now, this is truly a powerful testament of true forgiveness, and just how impactful this case really is, and the amount of folk that have faced similar situations but we never get to hear most of those stories.

      We welcome these two gentleman to our shores and hoe the impact of learning the true power of forgiveness can reach many and set many free in their minds and circumstances.

      My only disagreement is that here we go again as Bermudians, allowing folks with a criminal past , namely the ex cop, come into our shores so freely and no really red tape of a having to have a special visa or restricted travel privileges, such as what thousands of Bermudians are subjected to when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law, and then want to travel to The United States, many Bermudians have committed far less crimes then that of this ex police officer, but have been given a life sentence through U.S. law in regards to travel to The U.S.,

      My reasoning is one of fairness and I would like to see us as Bermudians be treated just as fairly as we treat our closes allies, We have always been a loving forgiving country and time and time again we have seen serious ex criminals, from street safe america, to hard core murders on our shores, as invited guest for improvement of our gang culture in Bermuda.

      Surely those who have stole motorcycles back in the day or something from a grocery store, or caught with a joint etc., should not be faced to deal with a life sentence of 99 years as the present U.S. Law states for those who travel with a waiver of ineligibility.

      I hope these men coming will be a positive impact but also give someone in authority in the U.S. Department of State a reason to champion the cause of us in Bermuda to freely travel once a person has been fully rehabilitated, because as of right now the local authorities who issue these certificates, know these documents ain’t worth the ink or paper they are written on, as they are not readily accepted by the U.S. or any other jurisdiction.

  2. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    Would never forgive someone for that…smh

    • HW says:

      And therefore you would remain imprisoned. Look, i can’t imagine how difficult it would be to forgive someone who did what this guy did to him. I would initially feel what you said too. But after much processing of emotions, you would need to come to that place of forgiveness or else bitterness and anger would take deep root in your heart.

      Nelson Mandela, after he was released from 27 years of unjust imprisonment said that he had to forgive those who wrongly imprisoned him, or else he would still be a prisoner.

      Again, this is no easy thing and I’m not suggesting we should dismiss the wrong done to us in a manner that downplays the offense or even worse, sets us up to be the victim again. Absolutely not. But harboring unforgiveness is tremendously unhealthy.

      I’ve had to forgive people of some pretty terrible things they did to me- it doesn’t mean i pretend they didn’t do what they did. In fact, in many instances i need to steer clear of that person for my own physical or emotional well being. However i have forgiven them to the point where i harbor no ill-feelings towards them. It’s a DIFFICULT but very liberating place to get to.

      someone once said that “resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemy.” There’s great truth to that.

    • Think of ALL de people who are still in prison for being wrongfully accused.

  3. Grace says:

    Good thing Jesus didnt take the stance we often do and deeming our sins unforgivable. We all fall short whether its shop lifting, murder and everything in between……but the forgiveness of the Father and His mercy has been extended to us. Let us examine ourselves first before casting judgement on what is and is not forgivable.

    • Sai says:

      Well said

    • Read Deal says:

      I understand what God wanted to prove by sending Jesus unto the world men.
      but you could argue that Jesus was far from human and was able to forgive because he knew for sure that there are better things awaiting him.

  4. J says:

    As people, forgiveness is in our nature… but to a fault sometimes. Part of me really hopes he is playing the ‘long-game’. smh

    • Wrongly accused gets 4 years, crooked cop gets 1 1/2 years.
      And racist cops are STILL walking free after being caught on social media publicly executing unarmed Black men.
      “Lets make America Great again”.
      When did it stop being GREAT?

  5. Boom says:

    They had to bring people in for this? We don’t have are own examples?

    • HW says:

      Boom said: “they had to bring people in for this? We don’t have ‘are’ own examples?”

      You had to comment on this with such negativity? We don’t already have enough of that in our community..?

      If you’re not interested in it, don’t attend or listen to their message. Why you feel the need to criticize a good venture is puzzling and a little bit disturbing.

  6. HW says:

    Some of you people sicken me. Rather than see the good in this, you choose to try and find fault. It’s people like that who are a big part of the problem in in island. Some people have nothing better to do than whine and complain.

    No doubt, racial injustice is a HUGE issue. Here and in America and one very worthy of discussing. But that should not detract from what these gentlemen are speaking on- the power of forgiveness in any and all circumstances.

    Rather than listen to their hearts and see how they were able to find good in a horrible circumstance, some of you are choosing to focus on bad and attempting to find fault. Shame on you.

    I applaud these men, mostly the young man who suffered at the hands of the corrupt cop. If HE is able to forgive (it no doubt was incredibly hard for him) then some of you should learn from him. And the whole point is that forgiveness isn’t about a person deserving it anyway. It is most beneficial to the person who forgives the one who offended them.

    How can you criticize this when our schools and our island is full of hurt people who are carrying unforgiveness, which often is driving them towards destructive behavior? Nobody is saying a person should put up with injustice or be a doormat for someone else. But forgiveness IS necessary.

    • BobTheBuilder says:

      Like!
      Don’t be like “Boom” and break down. Be like HW and build up. Forgiveness was given freely to whom deserve and whom don’t. Forgiveness is for the undeserving…Duh That’s why its called forgiving.

    • TMHsBattleAxe says:

      Some of you people make me sick. Rather than seeking justice for the oppressed, you choose to tell them forgive and forget. An innocent man lost four years of his life and his accuser only served a year and a half. He should be rotting in a cell somewhere for all the lives he destroyed.

      • HW says:

        Go back and read my post. You’ve totally misrepresented what i said and conveniently left out a very important part where i specifically mentioned racial injustice. It should be addressed and the systematic injustices which still exist today have been overlooked or downplayed for far too long. I HATE when people take a position of “well that was the past, let’s move on” as if 1- the past hasn’t tremendously impacted the present and 2- the past was something we should downplay when REAL people experienced and still are experiencing REAL injustice and suffering of many kinds.

        I fully support racial reconciliation and seeking justice for the oppressed/mistreated. However I don’t believe the general concept of forgiveness and the issue you raised with regards to oppression are mutually exclusive and i would NEVER tell anybody- particularly black Bermudians both of yesteryear and still what what they experience TODAY – to ‘forgive and forget’ as if their experiences should be dismissed or downplayed. Please don’t try to misrepresent my position when you don’t know it.

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      And back at ya, shame on you for judging us for having different opinions. We’re not all like you….

  7. Real Deal says:

    Forgiveness? i aint forgiving no one. bring the body cams

    I had an officer lie under outh when i was defending myself against a false charge of music ear phones while riding.

    if he did not lie when i questioned him in front of the judge i would have prove my innocence when he lied i was like wtf. and my defense went right down the drain

    • HW says:

      I personally think you’re confusing forgiveness with justice. No doubt, someone can argue that there wasn’t justice even in this case as the cop didn’t do near as much time as i believe he should. The justice system has many flaws and biases and that could be debated in another conversation, for sure.

      Forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean you ‘let them off the hook’ or you don’t still stand for what is right. Forgiveness isn’t pretending that the offence didn’t happen. It doesn’t change the past or the consequences of what someone did; Forgiveness is simply for the offended party to get to a place where they are not consumed with anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

      I would encourage you to attend their talk to get their personal perspective.

      Finally with regards to body cams….sadly the way things have played out in the US shows that even with body cams, cell phone footage and everything else, injustice and bias still prevails, far too often. I’m not using that as an excuse for not having them- maybe they could help especially with a case like yours which you shared. But clearly that isn’t going to solve everything. It’s going to take a lot of people willing to talk and be real and share experiences. And it’s going to take a lot more people to stop being so fragile and unwilling to hear another person’s perspective on their experiences. And most of all, it’s going to take people stepping out of their comfort zone and putting themselves in another person’s shoes. If people weren’t so selfish and unloving, maybe they could understand the pain many people have and continue to experience.

      Sadly far too many are just content with the way things are, or are willfully blind to what goes on around them. That’s a best case scenario for many; for others, they are actively a part of the problem and just plain racist.

      • Read Deal says:

        Thank you for your reply i see what you are saying. but even with the information you have given be i still cant forgive.

        forgiveness is something that is very difficult for me.
        I think it has something to do with memory. I can not seem to forget things. i know you said forgiveness is not about pretending something did not happen however the issue with my memory is i remember things in detail as if they just happen even if that happen 14+ years ago.

        so if i was a proper lawyer and was able to work around the untruthful cop’s lie and win the case i still would not forgive him.

        i am going out on a limb and saying that people that are able to forgive do not have my memory issue.

        some time i wonder what it would be like to forget things it must be very relaxing to forgive some one.

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