Joint Statement On Marking December 2, 1977

December 2, 2020

[Join statement from a number of people]

December 2 marks the anniversary of the most challenging chapter of the Bermuda story in the 20th century.

That weekend – December 2, 1977 – was an explosive culmination to a decade scarred by violence, including the assassinations of Police Commissioner Duckett and Governor Sharples, concluding with the hangings of Erskine ‘Buck’ Burrows and Larry Tacklyn. When the dust settled following that December weekend, ten lives had been lost over those tragic years.

The anniversary is an opportunity to reverently reflect on the full historical context and all those lives lost.

That said, even a storm cloud has a silver lining. History is full of examples of tragedy leading to a better society. We recognize that out of that crisis came some forward steps:

  • An end to capital punishment in all British Territories.
  • The Bermuda Constitutional Order was amended facilitating improved democratic principles – such as the elimination of the Expatriate Vote.
  • The Pitt Commission’s recommendations for social transformation.
  • An appreciation among our grassroots community for the “Lessons of ’77” has meant that social conflict in the subsequent four-plus decades, even the most challenging, has been resolved without rioting.

Accordingly, in the spirit of taking transformative steps forward, we, the undersigned, mark this milestone by promoting consideration of the following regenerative, life-affirming recommendations for Bermuda’s society as we journey through the current challenges – 2020 and beyond.

  • Support for a Restorative Justice Approach for our Criminal Justice System. Moving beyond the legacy of punitive approaches to the implementation of practices geared to access the best potential of those ‘caught up’.
  • Reframing the context of the Artifacts of Historic Punishment displayed in St George’s and other locales – whipping post, stocks, ducking stool, etc – in a way that affirms the sanctity of all.
  • Fostering community awareness in recognizing substance abuse as a social matter, rather than as a criminal issue. Supporting efforts of those transforming the outdated ‘War on Drugs’ approach into a more compassionate and rehabilitative means for addressing this complex social challenge.
  • Promoting island-wide support for the holistic approach to addressing the challenge of those affected by the cycle of violence. Appreciating the underlying socio-economic causes and recognizing that we all have a part to play in restoring a sense of community.

This Joint Letter is a collaborative effort of the Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda [CURB]; Imagine Bermuda; the Office of the Human Rights Commission & Social Justice Bermuda.

The Letter is being supported, on a strictly personal level, by the following community members – listed alphabetically. [Reference to any organizational links are included, only for the purpose of identification, but is not indicative of that group’s support]:

Cheryl [Pooley] Alves; Nishanthi Bailey [President of B.U.T.]; Arlene Brock [former Ombudsman]; Dale Butler [former Minister]; Neville Darrell [retired policeman, involved in Burrows’ arrest]; George W. Dowling III [St George Mayor] Joan Dillas-Wright [Senate President]; Canon James Francis; Glenn Fubler; Lance Furbert [friend of Burrows/ former Town Manager of St George].

Ellen-Kate Horton; Charles Gosling [Hamilton Mayor]; Wendell Hollis [Regiment Officer during ’77] Irving Ingram [community activist]; Kim Jackson [MIRRORS]; Michelle Khaldun [retired Civil Servant]; Dennis Lister [Speaker]; Margaret Lloyd [widow of the former Deputy Governor -in the 70’s – Peter Lloyd]; Lynn Millett [activist].

Betty- Anne [DeJean] Saunders; Donald Scott [retired Cabinet Secretary]; Alex Scott [member of Pitt Commission/ former Premier]; Calvin Shabazz; Campbell Simons [Senior Police officer who facilitated ‘peace’ during 1981 protest] Jonathan Smith [retired Police Commissioner]; Sir John Swan [former Premier]; Saleem Talbot [Islamic community]; Kristin White; Lynne Winfield; David Wingate.

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