Video: Marking 50th Anniversary Of BELCO Riots

January 21, 2015

The Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU] will recognize the 50th anniversary of the BELCO Riots of 1965 on February 2, 2015, forming a special committee to put on a night of reflection.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday [Jan 20], BIU President Chris Furbert said, “This year, 2015, marks 50 years of the BELCO Riots of 1965, so we’ve put together a committee made up of individuals to my left and to my right. Brother Ottie is the chair or the co-chair of that particular committee.

“On February 2nd, which is in two weeks time, there is an event that’s going to happen here at BIU at 5.30 to 8.00 and I’ll let Brother Ottie and the other members of the committee speak to exactly what they are going to be doing on February 2nd.”

Former BIU President Ottiwell Simmons said, “Today marks the preparation day for the public with respect to what we’re calling ‘Reflections of 1965, February 2nd.’

“That was an event that none of us are just able to forget no matter how much you may try, how much dementia you may have. It is perhaps one of the most outstanding historical events.

“It takes in social, cultural, and to some extent political twists and turns, and certainly a question of race as an ingredient in the BELCO strike, disturbance, riot – you have a list of words you could refer to.

“It was a dispute between the Bermuda Industrial Union and the BELCO hierarchy. And not only were they BELCO hierarchy, the directors were also some of the greatest knighted people in Bermuda.”

14-minute video of the press conference discussing the 50th anniversary of the BELCO riots:

Mr Simmons continued, “I think we were confronted at the time with some four to six knighthood people that represented Front Street and not only the BELCO, but other utilities in Bermuda.

“It was a season of monopoly for the upper class of this country.

“Things changed after that, they changed for the good of some of us, and yet the change, whilst rolling on; it is not given equal opportunity, equal rights, and it’s never and still not without prejudice. It’s sheer prejudice and discrimination.

“At the meeting on the 2nd of February, we intend to bring out as many facts and as much information as we can with respect to the disturbance at BELCO.”

Wentworth Christopher said, “On February 2nd, 1965, I was a police officer and I would say that all of the participants on that site were confronted with a unique set of circumstances.

“The union was in fact challenging what one might say was unbridled power and the idea of the union attempting to recognize and fight for their employees created some discontent from the other side.

“And then in so far as it relates to the people involved, the police officers and the strikers, this was a novel experience for them, there had never been such a confrontational situation before. Police officers were both Bermudian and non-Bermudian, white and black.

“Now on the police side there was something unusual because the vast majority of the English police officers generally stayed up at Prospect, the former military garrison. They had the Police Club where they socialized and their interaction with the local community was relatively limited, and it was usually a case where people had broken the law.

“On the other hand, the Bermudian police officers were confronted with that situation and they were living amongst a lot of the people that were demonstrating.”

The latest issue of the Worker’s Voice [PDF] said, “The Ways & Means Committee of the BIU will be having a night of reflection.

“The Ways & Means Committee have formed a committee headed up by the former president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, Bro. Ottie who was the Chief Organizer of the BIU in 1965; to put on a night of reflection to honour the 50th Anniversary of the BELCO Strike.

“The event will take place on Monday, February 2nd 2015 at the Bermuda Industrial Union at 5:30 p.m. The Committee is inviting anyone that took part in the strike or anyone that was a witness to the strike to come out on February 2nd 2015 as well as members of the public.

“This will be a night for attendees to participate; there will be a panel discussion and all are welcomed to attend. “

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Comments (22)

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  1. hmmm says:

    I think you need to fess up if you beat up on the police who were there just doing their job.

    Condoning and celebrating violence is disgusting. Gang mentality should have no place in our society.

    • Tell The Truth says:

      I trust that the BIU will not just tell the story of how they marched and struggled and fought for the working class.

      I trust that they will also tell the truth of how rioting was not just condoned but also encouraged to serve an agenda. I trust they will also tell of how innocent police officers were beaten and almost killed (and I believe paralyzed)by the strikers. You have never apologized to the community or the families. Disgusting!

      Tell the whole story Chris, don’t just sugar coat it. Do the right thing and call those violent animal like individuals out and call for them to be prosecuted. To make these savages out to be heroes of some kind is a slap in the face of anyone that was there and those that know the real story.

      • Mockingjay says:

        Have the Oligarchy apologized for the number of people they mistreated and devalued, do you know the reason they went on strike ?

      • Mockingjay says:

        IT’s always uncomfortable when we dig into our PAST and Very Embarrassing to see how everything transpired.
        I’m Proud of my For Fathers how they endured to get equal Rights and Justice, like you are proud of yours how they benefited and how you are still benefiting.

        • hmmm says:

          Yes the violence against people just doing their job and putting food on the table by a workers union was disgusting.

        • Buck-a-Roo says:

          It’s Forefathers, not For Fathers – or perhaps you meant Four Fathers?
          Have yourself a ***grate day, Mockingjay. :-)

  2. Mockingjay says:

    50 years later and we’re STILL going through the same S!@#.
    Thanks to those who made the sacrifice and shame on us who are allowing the same Oligarchy ideology to shaft us. And to those of you that got Bamboozled to vote for O.B.A./ubp and are being used as SURROGATES, I guess the ancestors would forgive you.
    Be Watchful Always !!

    • Joonya says:

      Hope you have fun in “Back To The Future, Pt. Shree” while the rest of us and Bermuda move forward.

    • hmmm says:

      How are you being shafted? Please explain how you are being shafted.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        You are gonna wait a long long time for an answer to that one.

      • Impressive says:

        Well for one, we where given an incompetent Premier to vote for in an election where everything that the then opposition was criticizing they have turned around and did the same or worse.. Now they turn around and give the same incompetent Premier a Ministry after he left office under allegations of wrong doings less then a year ago.. yada yada.. thats just scratching the surface by the way.. (and yet only the most objective OBA supporters have an issue with this, and its a very small minority)

        • Politricks says:

          What does that have to do with kuntas allegations?

        • Ruthless says:

          You didn’t have to vote for him. You probably voted PLP anyway so you weren’t given anything.

    • Kangoocar says:

      Your Nonsense is always nonsense mockingjay !!! It matters not if you are posting under your kunta name or this mokingjay name!!!!

    • Mockingjay says:

      I knew if I sprayed Baygon the roaches would come out.
      Freedom Fighters Forever.

    • MAKE MY DAY says:

      Some people just NEVER learn or grow-up!!! You can thank your PLP / BIU association for most of the problems in present-day BDA + over the last 50 yrs!!!


  3. Sky Pilot says:

    typical biu/plp, glorifying violence

  4. MAKE MY DAY says:


    Why on earth would you “celebrate” an event such as this – where a policeman was almost killed – by a brick being thrown against his head!! He had to retire after he semi-recovered from his head injuries!! Just another reason I HATE Ottiewell Simmons and the BIU for ALL the damage it has done to the Island over the years!! Remember the 1981 DEBACLE – that slowly killed the Tourism business over the years??

    In February 1965 a riot erupted outside the premises of the Bermuda Electrical Light Company on Serpentine Road and the Police were ordered to restore the peace. As a result of their intervention, 17 Police officers were injured. One officer, P.C. Gerard Ian Davies, was so badly injured that he had to be invalided out of the Force. His father later presented a soccer trophy to the Bermuda Football Association to be played for annually; it was ironically named the ‘Friendship Trophy’.

  5. Mockingjay says:

    So Americans shouldn’t celebrate 4th of July.