Sexual Orientation Discrimination Complaint Filed

March 23, 2015

mark anderson bermuda avi[Written by Don Burgess]

A man told the Human Rights Commission that when he posted on Facebook that he should have “ripped” a bus driver “out of his bra and panties” it wasn’t meant as a threat, but was his way of venting.

Bus driver Mark Anderson [pictured] filed a complaint against Desai Jones before the HRC that he was being discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and that Mr. Jones tried to coerce and intimidate him from proceeding with his claim.

The commissioners — Tawana Tannock, Juul Jones and Pamela Fowkes — listened to statements from both Mr. Anderson and Mr. Jones as well as witness Shari-Lynn Pringle.

Mr. Anderson also performs in drag as Sybil Barrington ‘The Queen of Bermuda’.

Mr. Jones made several Facebook posts between March 11, 2014 to April 9, 2014, after an incident occurred on the bus at the Manse Road stop.

Both agreed that Mr. Jones only had a $50 bill and Mr. Anderson allowed him to ride the bus without paying. Mr. Anderson said it was the third time he allowed Mr. Jones to not pay the fare because he only had a $50. However, Mr. Jones said it was the first time but on two other occasions Mr. Anderson had allowed him to ride for free when he didn’t have any money.

Mr. Jones said that Mr. Anderson was talking to some tourists when he got on at the Manse Road bus stop.

“He gave me this look of ‘not this crap type of thing again’. He was feigning me on like ‘get out of my sight type of thing’. He’s portrayed as this ambassador of Bermuda” but he treats locals differently.

Mr. Jones said he felt like Mr. Anderson was “undermining, downgrading another brother trying to catch the bus”.

When Mr. Jones came to his stop near Lantana, he alleges that Mr. Anderson did not initially open the door to let him out and called him out in front of everybody on the bus “embarrassing him”.

Mr. Anderson said: “It wasn’t until I was pulling off that it occurred to me that this was the third time that he had done this — claiming that he didn’t have any change.

“When I brought this to his attention he said “Are you trying to embarrass me?” and I said “No, sir I’m not trying to embarrass you. I am just trying to make it clear that this cannot happen again. The next time you are on the bus, you have to pay your fare” I said “Am I clear?” and he said “Yes, clear.”

Mr Jones take on the incident differs in that he was asking a question and getting a question in return and felt “frustrated and I had to use the bathroom” and was anxious to get off the bus.

“I didn’t show him any hostility or give him any threatening remarks,” Mr. Jones said.

On March 13, Mr. Anderson received a WhatsApp message from a friend saying “Sorry for the incident you had on the bus.”

Mr. Anderson did not know what his friend was referring to and had to get clarification that Mr. Jones was “blasting him on Facebook for everybody to see”.

Mr. Anderson added that he had received several “inbox messages within the hour” about the post.

“Even my sister saw it and asked ‘Who is this guy?’ Mr. Anderson said. “Even my mother saw it. She called me from the States.”

Later that he was attending the Blue Flag Ambassador certification course at the Bermuda College and had friend Shari-Lynn Pringle print off a copy of what had been posted.

Ms. Pringle said Mr. Anderson was “distressed” and “just not his self”.

She said since Mr. Jones’ posts were set to public, anyone “could see it. His friends could automatically see it in their timeline as they posted, and if you’re friends with them, you could see it in your timeline.”

She said “there was a lot of activity” on Mr. Jones’ post so it would have it would have been more prominent in people’s timelines than other posts with little or no comments.

Commissioner Tannock asked Ms. Pringle if Facebook had a mechanism in which to take down posts. Ms. Pringle said there is one “but it goes to a Facebook committee and something like that [Mr. Jones’ post] wouldn’t be taken down.

Even if I had flagged it, it wouldn’t have come down right away and chances are it wouldn’t have come down at it all because I have seen situations that are far worse.”

“I told him, he needed to get a print screen of what’s out there if you feel set upon and someone could take it down just as quickly.”

She said Facebook would look to that being a freedom of speech right.

Mr. Anderson did make a complaint to the police and he said “they had advised me to look at his [Mr. Jones] page daily to see what else he’s putting up” and to keep a record of what else was being posted.

On March 28, 2014, Mr. Anderson said Mr. Jones continued to insult him by posting a copy of the complaint to the HRC to Facebook. Mr. Jones also made some comments about Lisa Reed of the HRC, which Mr. Anderson said “I was very disturbed about that”.

Mr. Anderson then went to Graham Robinson of the HRC to make him aware of Mr. Jones’ latest post. Mr. Anderson felt that Mr. Jones was trying to coerce or intimidate him from continuing with his complaint.

Mr. Anderson said other individuals had told him that Mr. Jones had posted comments against other gay people, but he had no proof of that. He added other gay people did not want to pursue any action because they didn’t want to deal with it.

On April 9, Mr. Anderson had attended an event at City Hall where he was up for an award and Mr. Jones was working as a cameraman.

After the event was over, Mr. Anderson said Mr. Jones “tried to speak to me, but I totally ignored him”.

Mr. Jones said: “I’m a blogger. As long as I have electricity, I’m online. I was using Facebook as a vent.”

He admitted that he did make all the Facebook posts that were attributed to him at the hearing.

“My account is public so you don’t necessarily have to be my friend to see it. That’s due to the outspoken, open-minded person that I am because you can network with more people with an open profile. You can’t get to know other people from around the world with a private profile.”

Mr. Jones said that he has 3,000 plus Facebook friends.

He added that he had a right to post a copy of the letter sent to him with Mr. Anderson’s complaint about him on Facebook on March 28, 2014 because it had Mr. Jones name on it.

“It wasn’t to get back at you or to quote, unquote intimidate Mr. Anderson to go along with the case. There was no way I was being disrespectful — I am a standup individual.”

He added the posting to the HRC letter is “being dragged out of proportion”.

Mr. Jones said he tried to apologize to Mr. Anderson at the ceremony at City Hall on April 9.

“I wanted to get his attention, take a picture with him and to let him know that you’ve taken my Facebook posts and this situation a little step beyond what it is. I’m not causing an intimidation factor to him. I’m not causing him to second-guess his safety around me.”

Mr Jones said quite often if he has a beef with someone, shortly thereafter, you would see a photo on his Facebook page with that person as a way to “quash” the beef with that person.

“Without that picture it would seem like it was some hate crime or I have a vendetta against this man or I have something against him. That picture would have been me smiling, shaking his hand and I would have thought this procedure would have been unnecessary. That’s what that picture would have represented to me.”

Update: Brief video comment from Mr Anderson today

He said he would have apologized with that photo.

Commissioner Juul asked, if Mr. Jones had wanted to apologise, why didn’t he post it on his Facebook page the next day.

But Mr. Jones said he wanted to apologize face-to-face.

Commissioner Fowkes asked how would have he would have apologized.

“I would have apologized for the process of getting it off my chest,” Mr. Jones said. “Instead of lifting weights, I use Facebook as a release valve. It wasn’t an attack.”

But Commissioner Tannock referred to a March 12 post where Mr. Jones said “You’re so fortunate s/him I didn’t rip you out of your bra and panties on the bus yesterday… you know for a fact I hate your kind with a passion.”

The post added that Mr. Jones “felt like kicking the F—ing” out of you, along with several more F-laced tirades.
“I may have a human problem with dealing with something against my beliefs. I was brought up in a Christian household.”

He added the world now has an acceptance of Sodom and Gomorrah. He said that’s an abomination. Mr. Jones said he was brought up that was wrong.

“I was brought up in a Christian household that lifestyle shouldn’t even exist — homosexuality.”

Mr. Jones, who is 41, said it has been “instilled in him not to accept that lifestyle. I have a dislike towards that lifestyle, not necessarily towards that person.”

Mr. Jones said he was not disparaging Mr. Anderson but rather his persona, Sybil Barrington, his stage name as a drag queen.

“Sybil Barrington is not real… it’s an imaginary being. Sybil Barrington doesn’t have a passport; Sybil Barrington doesn’t have a birth certificate. I didn’t say ‘Mark Anderson’ in any of my posts. His name has never appeared in any of my Facebook posts. I’m not running his name through the mud.”

Commissioner Tannock pointed out in the first Facebook post it reads “While I was getting off your bus, I was wondering why you hadn’t opened the door as of yet, then I remembered the mixed look…” Ms Tannock asserted that Sybil Barrington does not drive a bus, and asked “So who were you referring to in that sentence?”

Mr. Jones replied “his alter ego”.

Commissioner Tannock said to Mr. Jones “It is hard to believe you never intended to hurt anybody or intimidate anybody, but you have written language that talks about being aggressive towards somebody. I know in you’re mind you’re only talking about Sybil Barrington but you make a clear reference to an incident you had with Mark Anderson on the bus. How do you reconcile those two?”

Commissioner Juul asked Mr. Jones to explain the March 28th post, which said: “LOL. Drag queens they should know the saying then ‘Let the water run off you like a duck’s feathers. Hmm, guess it doesn’t apply to setting fire to them.”

Mr. Jones said it was not about literally setting someone on fire but to “brimstone and fire” that is set to happen “to their kind. It’s all scriptural references. I was being sarcastic from moving from ruffled feathers to duck’s feathers, let the water run off your back. It had nothing to do to putting gasoline on him and setting him on fire.”

Mr. Anderson’s lawyer, Darrell Clarke read out another post: “LOL… I number one tag your thoughts. They were violent. I’d drag you out to your … chair.”

Mr. Jones said when he hashtags his thoughts, it isn’t an actual action, but a way to vent.

Another post read: “I know they’re people too. LOL. Animals don’t act as such. All this back-and-forth about what should and shouldn’t be, isn’t my concern. I know what’s what and will take it to the grave. I don’t care for them – they can do whatever. Just try stand toe-to-toe with me because I go out of my way to hurt you real bad. People can say Christians aren’t supposed to think or talk like that… I’m a believer, that states my case.”

Mr. Jones said that was a boxing reference in which his Facebook friends would understand.

In his concluding statement, Mr Jones said: “I’m here to stand accountable for my actions, whatever they may be, but at the end of the day I don’t think it should have reached this point. I understand people limit the freedom of speech, but I don’t have to be forced to live that lifestyle because of the person that I am. In the future I know there were be more of what people will have to say on the quote, unquote gay rights, but as a people I hope we can get along.

“To Mr. Anderson, I didn’t mean no harm for what I said because if I did, it would have been a different situation.”

The HRC will make a decision at a later date.

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Comments (35)

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  1. Boston Baked Bean says:

    Mr. Jones, you’re no christian. There was no way you were being disrespectful ???? Do you really believe that? You’re a disgrace.

  2. Toodle-oo says:

    Ahh yes , the old ‘I only have a $50 note trick ‘ whilst having $49.99 in change in all the rest of the pockets (that never get searched) so as to avoid paying anything , ever . Plus he did it repeatedly .

    People of that character are quite capable of the nastiness he’s accused of .

  3. LickMyChicken says:

    If he had 50 he coulda and shoulda taken a taxi.

  4. Not exactly says:

    I am glad this went to HRC.

  5. ? says:

    Mr jones claims to be an “open minded” christian who hates” homosexuality” and the worlds acceptance of “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

    In other words, he’s an uneducated bigot who uses religion as an excuse to hate what he doesn’t understand.

  6. Truth is killin' me... says:

    You’re always got a $50 while gettin’ on da bus…you are full of s***!

  7. Terry says:

    Did he show a $50 bill?

    He could have said I only have a $20 bill.

    Can’t stand a liar.

    Plus the hate for thoughts of others.

  8. Wake up Bie says:

    People disrespect people on social media all the time. What’s the problem a blog is just a blog.

    • i care says:

      If this was your family member you would not sit by and make such a dumb *** comment. What if this was you going through the bull ****.

  9. imjussaying says:

    Empry vessels often make the most noise. . Mr. Jones your 15 minutes of fame is up.

    Continue to walk tall Mr Anderson we love you and your spirit.
    Blessed by the most high.

  10. BT CHECKER says:

    Disrespect and discrimination/harrasment are two different things.

    One you are protected from by law – the other you are not.

  11. Family Man says:

    If I were Mr. Jones’ employer, Mr. Jones would be picking up his severance cheque tomorrow morning.

  12. Sky Pilot says:

    Live and Let Live!

    you see something that is not to your liking,tough,walk away! the world does not revolve around just you.

  13. B.J. says:

    Have a look at his FB page. Me thinks he doth protest too much because he is more like Mark than he wants do admit… Don’t throw stones if you live in glass houses, Sir.

  14. positivity says:

    Mark, I am proud of you for standing up. Some people may think this is not a big deal but if we tolerate, we condone. Mr. Jones, don’t use your faith as an excuse. As far as I know Jesus didn’t discriminate.

  15. Self says:

    This guy’s attitude really stinks. Mr. Anderson was gracious enough to let him on the bus, and this is how he repays him? And this wasn’t the first time either? The colossal nerve of some people.

  16. Darwin's Child says:

    Thank you for having the courage to take this further Mark. There is too much hate and division spouted in the name of religion. Good luck to you.

  17. Do the Math says:

    I was born and raised in the church, my father is a minister and the last time I checked the Bible says to love your neighbour as yourself. It frustrates me to see that when people get called out for their lack of respect for another that they try to hide behind the veil of the church. Whilst there are churches that have spoken out against homosexuality (i strongly disagree) not every church nor every christian has the same setiments as the radical fundamentalist and it is my hope that his individuals comments do NOT reflect negatively on ALL those that profess to be christian.

    In my honest opinion, any church that chooses to try and fight that battle is only wasting their time as, the world has made their decision and moved on. At some point, those blinded by that which is different will either learn to accept that it is not something that can be simply purged or spend years in the “wilderness” searching for something they were never meant to find.

  18. selina says:

    Mark -stand tall and proud of who you are.

  19. mike says:

    Mr. Jones sounds like a dead beat. You have to catch a bus but never have the correct fair?

  20. Adam says:

    Mr. Jones should be ashamed of himself. Every time he says something in this he’s always saying why nothing is his fault; he didn’t have money, he had to go to the bathroom, he was disrespected, he wasn’t raised that way.

    Where I was raised you treated people with respect and didn’t act like an arrogant ***.

  21. Coffee says:

    Classic case of political correctness gone wild !

    • ? says:

      Coffee…you’re a classic case of a hate filled bigot, using religion to justify you beliefs, disgusting beliefs that you want to push onto others.

      • Coffee says:

        An Over- reaching , over reacting , over the top and overtly ignorant reply by someone who describes themself with a question mark . .? Your whole life can be summed up by a question mark judging by the garbage you’ve just posted .

        • reefs says:

          Coffee, it’s easy for anyone to see, based on your posts, just how much you hate your fellow man.
          You’re vile diatribes constantly spew hatred. You really have no business judging anyone else.

    • serengeti says:

      Preventing threats of violence is ‘political correctness gone wild’, is it?

    • Sugar says:

      This is a classic case of bigotry. His posts were full of hate, this has nothing to do with political correctness.

  22. CJ says:

    Using Christianity to justify hate. How un-Christian can you get?

  23. reefs says:

    ““Sybil Barrington is not real… it’s an imaginary being. Sybil Barrington doesn’t have a passport; Sybil Barrington doesn’t have a birth certificate”

    neither is god, *****

  24. Xaxa says:

    Mr. Anderson,
    Keep your head up. Shame on Mr. Jones!

  25. Clare says:

    Mr Anderson is a wonderful ambassador for Bermuda, and a role model in our community. We are lucky to have him. Thank goodness for the Human Rights Act and the HRC, which are in place to allow people like Mr Anderson to live their lives, free from discrimination.

  26. Boston Baked Bean says:

    In follow up to my comments yesterday, I’m pleased to see how many people are highly offended by Mr. Jones and I sincerely hope that the Human Rights Commission via tribunal comes to the right decision. This is a case that should NEVER have to be decided upon again. People like Mr. Jones have no place in a civilized society.

  27. serengeti says:

    I’d support Mr Anderson if he were nominated as honoree on National Heroes Day.

  28. Joonya says:

    Entitled, holier-than-thou religious hypocritical bigot.
    Im sick of fools using their Bible as a weapon.

  29. CJ says:

    Religion is all too often used as an excuse for bad behaviour.