One murder is one too many! But in the aftermath of nearly 40 gun and gang related murders in his constituency, Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Weeks said it’s time to call this senseless string of murders for what it is – a public health crisis that’s impacting Bermuda’s Black community.
In the wake of this latest fatal shooting, Mr Weeks spent the better part of last night and this morning, tracking the fallout from yet another gun murder in Constituency 16 Pembroke East Central.
When contacted by Bermuda Real today, he recounted somber accounts of the last moments of another gun victim’s life, this time a 30-year-old man, whose name is due to be released by police pending notification of his next of kin.
The shooting occurred around 9:40pm last night, when a lone gunman rode into the One Way Deep Dale area of Pembroke and opened fire.
The victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds, and stumbled down to the foot of the hill to the junction with Parson’s Road, where first responders administered CPR to no avail.
By the time Mr Weeks arrived, he said the crowd gathered had dispersed but police were still processing the scene.
“When I got down to the Parson’s Road area around 10:30pm last night, the road was still blocked off. Most of the residents had dispersed but the police were still there.
“I had heard that there was a lot of commotion while Emergency Services personnel were doing CPR. I was told that residents were fussing and demanding more action on the part of the police.
“I talked to area residents when I arrived again this morning, when I saw one guy standing where the young man died last night, who was crying. He said he was a friend of the victim and told me that the young man who was killed stumbled down to Parson’s Road before he died.
“I told him I was there to support him in any way that I could. Eventually he opened up and said that he was devastated by the loss of his friend and that something has got to be done,” Mr Weeks said.
When he walked up Deep Dale, he said he talked to another group of young men who didn’t have much to say. “It was just a whole lot of somberness but they were glad that I came to lend my support.”
At the Evening Light Pentecostal Church, Mr Weeks spoke with choir members rehearsing, who stopped to hold hands to pray for the victim, the community and for the country as a whole.
When pressed on his party’s latest holistic approach to counteract this social ill, Mr Weeks said: “Yes, this is a national security issue, but it’s a public health crisis that’s impacting the Black community.
“I’ve called out on this for almost 40 murders and it’s not any other ethnic group – not the Portuguese, or white young men, it’s our young black men. Blacks killing blacks! We must call it as we see it! We must ask ourselves why is it just our black young men? There are a number of contributing factors – hopelessness, the lack of education and joblessness. And 90 to 95 percent of those convicted for it are also young Black men. The statistics are speaking for themselves,” he said.
And as far as he’s concerned those statistics ring through loud and clear in his constituency, where so many murders are now on the books in his area.
After this latest murder, he said: “I went back to the area as the area MP full stop/period. I have called this a state of emergency from the very beginning. I am at odds with this senseless violence that’s taking our young Black men at an alarming rate.
“This is a Black community issue, it’s happening in our neighbourhoods, and yes it’s good to call out to the whole community, but it’s impacting the Black community most.
“Today it’s another Black man who was gunned down at the young age of 30, another Black father, another Black child left without a father in our community and it’s not sustainable.
“We have to call to it for what it is – it’s the Black community being affected. If I have to be the last man standing I have been elected to speak for the voiceless and I will do that for as long as I;m able – somebody has to care to remain sensitive and connected,” said Mr Weeks.
He noted that many of the youth today are the children left behind as a result of gang and gun violence, who also lose their fathers to prison. Ultimately, he said they all belong to us.
But he agreed from the broader community perspective it’s going to take change and a lot of work across the board, in the interest of the social stability of the country.
“It’s a public health crisis because it’s all connected. The lack of education, unemployment, young Black men feeling alienated in their own country – it’s all of that. So this is where it becomes a state of emergency.”
And until we deal with it from that perspective, with all hands on deck, he said: “We’re just going to keep spinning our wheels.”
Over the years, after so much bloodshed and tears throughout his constituency and around the island, he said: “I have reached out to the churches and community leaders.
“Yes, we can begin to address this issue by ‘each one reaching one’. Beyond that, we need to tell these young men and show them, that we as a country care about their wellbeing. We need to get through to them that the path of destruction that they travel can only end in more bloodshed and loss!! They need to know that we believe it is not too late for them to turn their lives around and become positive contributors to our society.
“As a country, we must with immediacy, put in place the necessary initiatives to begin to rehabilitate, reintroduce and refocus our young men. We must not discount them!
“From St Monica’s Mission, to North Shore, to Victor Scott, to Parson’s Road, Deep Dale and throughout this constituency, I’ve seen too many. The constituents here have seen too many. The families affected and the children left behind – we’ve all seen too much already!”
Asked if he genuinely believes that as a community we can stop the madness, and stop young Black men hellbent on killing each other he replied: “Yes we could stop it by each one reaching one!”
But in the interim, he said: “I weep for the community, I weep for another child who has lost their father, another set of parents who have lost their son and my heart bleeds for this community to experience more bloodshed in their neighbourhood again.”
The area MP also said that while he has not yet seen the parents of this latest gun murder victim, he plans to before the weekend ends.