Column: Encouraging Peaceful Demonstrations

February 9, 2017

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Opposition Leader David Burt for exercising his leadership by encouraging supporters who oppose the Airport Plan to demonstrate in peaceful ways that are within the law.

As reported in the media, Mr. Burt made it clear  that campaigners could make their feelings known to members of Parliament during the upcoming debate in the House of Assembly on this Friday, doing so in ways that are lawful.

Extract: Mr Burt speaking at this week’s Town Hall meeting

I’m writing this opinion piece on February 8th, the anniversary of the first meeting of the Progressive Group – in 1959 – which provided Bermuda with a vital shared legacy.

The Opposition Leader’s call is honouring that legacy of almost 60 years that demonstrated through the Theatre Boycott, the power of peaceful activism which recognizes rules of engagement that protects the whole.

This means that our small island can engage in frank dialogue around differences while limiting the possibility of unintended consequences that could be self-destructive.

It is worth noting that the obvious intention of those pioneers in the Progressive Group was to ‘open the Island up’. Let me suggest that it was that intention, their commitment to peaceful means and their alignment with the ‘arc of the universe’ that resulted in the successful removal of the formal barriers of race in Bermuda in two short weeks.

Notwithstanding the example offered in 1959, at times our emotions have led us off track. So that in 1981, during the protracted strike by Government workers, some folks became frustrated and staged an unsustainable picket/blockade at the Airport – trying to ‘close the island down’.

Enough of us redirected that negative energy and were able to collaborate with the Police to move the activism into the streets of Hamilton for a peaceful demonstration and the challenging circumstances were transformed to the benefit of the entire community.

The 90-minute live video replay of the full PLP Town Hall meeting on the airport

Opposition Leader Burt has touched on the point that with ‘rights’ come ‘responsibilities’. It reminds me of the period that I coordinated the Anti-Apartheid Coalition during the 1980’s. One of the thorniest issues was the matter of economic sanctions against South Africa, in the context of the reality of Bermuda’s financial sector.

One of the key events was the Island hosting a joint visit by Margaret Thatcher and George Bush and we wanted to express our right to demonstrate our opposition to their stance on sanctions, but in the context of our responsibility to provide Bermudian hospitality.

On the Monday prior to the arrival of the two leaders, we invited residents to demonstrate their solidarity with South African people by driving with their vehicle lights on. This effective demonstration was supported by more than 60% of drivers of all backgrounds.

David Burt’s call comes at an important time, a period when the tone of the political discourse – both locally and globally – has been the cause of concern by so many of us.

In addition, during 2017 we will be preparing for a General Election, a time of hyper-competitiveness amongst political parties. However, given the universal challenges being faced by all of us, let’s consider an option. Can we use this year to engage across all sectors to benefit the Island as a whole?

- Glenn Fubler


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Comments (25)

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  1. Reality Check 2017 says:

    With all due respect Mr. Fubler:

    We are past the “respectful” dialogue and protest phase. There have been numerous attempts at peace protest against the airport deal. This government has ignored all attempts at peaceful interaction by the people of this country. I’m sorry but there will be people arrested tomorrow at the House. There will be mild chaos. And that is because this government does not want to listen to the people, so they will have to feel.

    • Micro says:

      I take it you didn’t attend any of the public meetings on the project?

    • sandgrownan says:

      Sounds like a threat to me.

      This is not a black/wehite thing, this is not a civil rights struggle, just a bunch of malcontents who want Bermuda fail and to regain power at all costs.

      Shame on them.

      • Onion Juice says:

        Well how come in my lifetime I’ve ONLY seen white people protest twice in this Island.
        It’s not a Black and white thing.

    • wondering says:

      An Opinion on ‘Strategic Thinking’

      The smartest and most effective activists think, plan, and act strategically. Inexperienced activists make the mistake of focusing only on stopping things. Their only action is reaction.

      All they do is maintain the status quo and they actually lose in the long run, because the rules never change and there are all sorts of things they’re not stopping.

      Strategic action is necessary in situations where an opponent blocks the way to an objective. In such cases, smart activists use strategic thinking to identify where an opponent is vulnerable, and then try to figure out how to exploit that vulnerability. They also use strategic thinking to solve problems before they happen, coolly examining the pros and cons of various moves in order to identify the best course of action.

    • Herb says:

      “by the people” do you mean the 300 that are supposed to represent the other 60,000
      I regard your statement as an outright threat to the majority of this country and hopefully the BPS will not tolerate any nonsense from protesters like yourself

    • Warlord says:

      I voted for this government and I give them the go ahead with the airport and I’m sure I am not the only one.If the PLP were in power they could do what they want,but they are the opposition so get on with building the airport please.
      PS I am in construction so I will get a small piece of the pie

    • wahoo says:

      Because you don’t get something your way does not mean the government is not listening. There are many ways to do this and the government’s method makes a lot of sense to a lot of people. I think that you are being played but you won’t listen to me.

    • Keeping it real says:

      You need to wake up from your dream only a few of you are looking for trouble.plp biu better stop using these people you have yours and as long as they follow blindly they won’t get anything.they out on strike at a moments notice no money at the

    • Historically Black People have ALWAYS demonstrated peacefully worldwide, even though we have been beaten, killed ,arrested ,water hosed and dogs set on us, so this futile plea is ridiculous as we the civilized ones are ALWAYS the victims of this biased system.

  2. Alvin Williams says:

    I am afraid governments that are bound and determine to have their way have never listen to peaceful protest. power only yields to power.

    • Rhonnda Oliver says:

      Do you not understand how a government works and why we have elections?

      • Yahoo says:

        Take it easy on poor old Alvin – he doesn’t understand much.

    • bdaboy says:

      “I am afraid governments that are bound and determine to have their way have never listen to peaceful protest. power only yields to power.”

      You’re right…14 years of that…thankfully, it’s over.

    • You don’t get any wiser your getting old an can’t open your eyes.n c your self you r not in the 60s anymore stop following blindly think for yourself what you gonna do when these people go fishing farm we don’t have anything no stores no banks just loud mouth

    • Zevon says:

      An elected government should not have its every move stopped by 100 or so septuagenarian extremists.

      The rest of us want progress.

    • Wahoo says:

      No you are afraid not enough pawns will show up tomorrow for you to hide behind. That is what you are afraid of.

    • Keeping it real says:

      You are still in a time warp wake up

  3. Inquiring Minds says:

    Okay so the way I see it, this airport deal is very much like America’s Truck. On that note, will America’s Truck be good for Bermuda? It’s really dividing the island!!!

    • wahoo says:

      Not sure what you are talking about but I think that if (real big IF) you got an honest answer from the group organizing a protest you would find that it has little to do with an airport.

    • Your joking right? says:

      Things that bring development and positive attention to the Island are GOOD

      Things that rip apart the hard work people trying to re-build this country are doing for all Bermudians are BAD.

      Do you want to do GOOD or BAD.

      I think its a simple as that. Look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and ask what your parents would want you to do.

      Let’s all grrow up a little please…

      • Inquiring Minds says:

        I’m sorry, I thought I was clear. I was speaking about an actual truck from America, not the upcoming sailboat race (which seems to be quite popular and is what I assume you thought I was talking about).

        So, I ask again…will AMERICA’S TRUCK be good for Bermuda?!?! It’s really dividing the island!!!!

  4. Triangle Drifter says:

    By every measuring stick, poll or review by professionals who know an awful lot more than the average person polled, this is a good deal, or at the very least the best we are going to get, given the dismal financial situation Bermuda is in.

    It has the support of the vast majority of the population. Somehow a very small minority think that the elected Government is supposed to ignore the majority & do things their way.

  5. swing voter says:

    I remember the comments of some politicians a few years ago “hey its our turn now bie” or “we’re the government now, we’ll do what we want”. Well whether you voted for them orn not, its the OBAs turn now. Let them govern.

  6. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    Mr. Burt may be in front of mic telling people to conduct a peaceful and lawful protest, but by Mr. Furbert’s recent call to action highlights, behind closed doors they are instructing their agents to do otherwise again.