‘Reflective Dialogue Gathering’ Over 1977 Riots

December 5, 2017

Some 40 residents attended the ‘Gathering for a Reflective Dialogue’ this past Saturday on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the December 1977 riots.

“We wish to thank the Bermuda National Gallery for providing access to their beautiful environs, offering an ideal climate to address this most-thorny chapter of Bermuda’s history,” Imagine Bermuda said.

“The group dialogue, facilitated by Aderonke Bademosi-Wilson, included 4 people who were directly involved from either side of that turbulent civil unrest, precipitated by the hangings of Burrows and Tacklyn.

“Also participating were the Mayor of Hamilton, the Bishop of Bermuda, the widow of a Deputy Governor from that era, a former Cabinet Secretary and the daughter of Wilfred ‘Mose’ Allen: close confidant of Dr Gordon and founder of the PLP. In addition, there was the daughter of Hilton & Georgine Hill who were intimately involved in the island’s first boycott against racial barriers in 1950, amongst other members of the community.

“After an icebreaking session, the group broke out into pairs to share a 10 minute dialogue around what the theme for the occasion – ‘Every Life is Precious’ – meant to them. This was followed by Berkeley Institute student, Tylasia DeSilva singing a moving rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” .

Reflective Dialogue Summary Bermuda Dec 4 2017

“Following Tylasia’s wonderful performance, the whole group was guided by Aderonke, through a ‘speaking bowl session’, reflecting specifically on the 1977 crisis:

“Glenn Fubler gave an account of his motivation to get involved in the Burrows & Tacklyn matter. He referenced his upbringing by family and neighbours in North Village, his early schooling at Elliott and St Paul AME, all which imbued him with a sense of independence and interdependence. So that by the time he was 12 and had his first job around that Christmas, he decided to donate his very first pay – the whole 5 shillings – to the marginalized children of the Sunshine League.

“That same impulse, a decade later, led him to student activism while abroad in university and the Black Berets. Returning home in 1974, he recognized that notwithstanding the unprecedented charges against Burrows and Tacklyn, the fact that they were some of our society’s most marginalized, someone needed to lend a hand.

“Given the nature of the crimes for which they were accused, it became a test of courage but he started a legal defense fund and subsequently the Anti-Hanging Campaign. That said, a very small group of volunteers persevered for several months and by August 1977 – against the odds – had collected over 6,000 signatures. Through serendipity, Glenn had enrolled for a year at King’s College in London, so he took the original copied of the petition with him and was able to lobby at Westminster along with a couple others in the week leading to the hanging.

“Wendell Hollis recounted his experience during the riots precipitated by the hangings, when he led a squad of the Regiment in the Court Street area. He maintained that it was the most traumatic event in his life with the Island ‘teetering on the brink’ as his squad was facing off with a crowd of scores of angry people.

“Wendell’s most moving piece included the account that live rounds were distributed to soldiers. However, at the peak of the tension the skies opened up and it rained torrentially that afternoon for some 4 hours and consequently the crowd dispersed and tragedy was averted – an occasion that Wendell compared to the ‘parting of the Red Sea’.

“Lance Furbert offered his account of Buck’ Burrows during the massive man-hunt in the 70’s – notwithstanding his feeling of being conflicted about the situation. He spent some time getting to know the fugitive and was impacted by this relationship. Burrows was arrested by the Police a few days after he left this hide-away.

“Furbert noted that just prior to the hanging he received word from Buck that he had been ‘saved’ – a religious transformation – and an instruction from ‘Buck’ that he [Lance], should ‘get his life together – he’s fine’. When the dust settled on the turmoil, this led Lance to undergo a meaningful change in his own life – the rest is history.

“Lance was out on the streets during the civil disturbance – on the other side of the barricades as that of Wendell. He noted that while the majority of the crowd were young people, he did see a surprising number of ‘conservative’ older people involved. He agreed with Wendell that the substantial rain had ‘saved the day’. Furbert also noted that once the anger in the streets had been released that there was a noticeable emerging mindset towards ‘bringing the community back together’.

“Lynn Millett gave an account of his father being charged with offences as a result of the ‘Belco Riots of 1965 and that impacted his family. He noted that his perspective of the police who questioned his father eventually proved to be a positive one; pointing out that his father was exonerated. He went on to discuss the early 70’s culture of conflict of teens with Police around motorbikes. This polarization, the racial divide and American influence explained the motivation for his joining the Black Beret Cadre.

“Millett was on the streets on the first night of the civil unrest, when it was first announced that the attempt by the legal team to prevent the hangings had failed. A crowd of young people attacked the Parliament and he was caught out under the conditions of the curfew. He witnessed first-hand, the substantial ventilation of anger that poured across the North of the city. He was harboured in the home of friends that evening before being able to return home.

“Others who had little involvement in that crisis, offered their perspective on how that milestone had transformative outcomes. However, it was clear that Reflective Dialogue on that era was only a beginning, but that together for this community, we had reached a ‘sweet spot’ on which we could build.”

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Comments (3)

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  1. Onion Juice says:

    When is de movie coming out?

    • puzzled says:

      And what part would you play Onion.
      With all your negative comments over the years here

  2. facts of the rock says:

    Move along,nothing to see here.