Anniversary Of MLK’s Assassination Observed

April 5, 2023

Yesterday [April 4] marked the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, with a declaration calling for reflection and action on the day being supported by several local community groups.

A spokesperson said, “On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King made an iconic speech at Riverside Baptist Church in New York. On that occasion, the drum major spoke of the intersectionality involving civil rights, economic rights and the implications of the military industrial complex in his speech ‘Beyond Vietnam,’ which called for a paradigm shift, a renaissance, ‘a revolution of values globally.’

“MLK’s speech was welcomed by many, especially young people – black and white – who faced being drafted into that war. However, even some civil rights colleagues and most of the major media heavily criticized him. MLK, with courage, remained steadfast in the spirit of his enslaved ancestors, committed to ‘lay down…sword and shield, down by the Riverside.’

“On April 4, 1968, MLK was assassinated.

“In observance of this double anniversary, we are inviting support for the spirit of MLK. It invites support for three premises, rooted in his thesis shared in 1967:

“1. Those caught in the local cycle of violence, be encouraged across our island – town, up and down the country – to support a truce. Each life matters. We can honour the spirit of Brother Martin by laying down our weapons.

“2. Policy makers, be encouraged. Let’s pause the war on drugs. A community think tank initiating an in-depth conversation will begin with the premise expressed in a 2022 United Nations global request calling for an end to the war on drugs. That war, the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights contends, has failed to meaningfully address substance abuse but has unfortunately increased criminality and violence.

“Let’s consider a renaissance, a shift in approach from a criminal justice perspective to a public health paradigm. Volunteering thus far for this think tank is Dr Shaunee Basden [substance counsellor], Sandy Butterfield [founder of Focus], Dr John Cann, Dr Cheryl Peek-Ball [two former CMOs], Shawn DeShields [Bermuda College lecturer], Martha Dismont, Betty Anne DeJean-Saunders [former school counselor], Victoria Pearman [former Ombudsman/lawyer], Wayne Perinchief [former Assist. Police Commissioner and Minister of National Security], Dr Michael Radford [former Head Psychiatrist – BHB], Jonathan Smith [former Police Commissioner], Neal Trott [counsellor at Harbourlight], Dr Michael West [former Lecturer @ Ber. College and former Dean at Aston University], Dr Carika Weldon, and Roy Wright [former Dean of Bermuda College].

“3. Global leaders, be encouraged. Given the current tragedy of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and observing the 20h anniversary of the devastating U.S. invasion of Iraq, let us honour the call of Dr. King to shift beyond the current paradigm. Let’s focus on making peace rather than making war and leverage the potential of tried and true diplomatic means for settling conflict.

“This declaration is supported by the following community groups:

  • Bermuda is Love
  • Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda
  • Imagine Bermuda
  • Social Justice Bermuda

“The 2022 Statement by UN High Commission on Human Rights can be read here.”

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