Reflecting on Sunday’s protest march that saw thousands take to the streets “to show solidarity and support the Black Lives Matter movement”, Premier David Burt opened the latest COVID-19 briefing saying: Sunday was a powerful moment for Bermuda.
“Thousands took to the streets to show solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, while demanding justice, and elimination of racism in Bermuda.
“As we marched, we affirmed that Black Lives Matter, and with the rest of the world, remembered American black men and women who have been murdered by the state,” he said.
“It is clear that the events in United States have affected many, and I’m pleased that this government changed the laws, so that a legal and peaceful protest could take place this Sunday.
“Racism in Bermuda isn’t new, and racist attitudes still persist in Bermuda,” he added.
“Police brutality in Bermuda, is not new either, and neither are police who may have racists views.
December 2, 2016 and recent local events have proven that that is the case.
“There is still economic disparity between black and white people who do the same jobs in Bermuda.
“This is our truth, and of course, it is not enough just to talk about it, but we must continue to act on it.”
As a colony, the Premier stated that Bermuda’s justice system “is not colourblind”.
“We have to make sure that we continue the reforms to our justice system so that the differing treatment of black person versus white persons inside of the criminal justice system is no longer there.
“This inequity is what led this government to decriminalize cannabis possession because the outcome of that law disproportionately, negatively affected black males, with 95 percent of convictions of cannabis possession being black males, whereas the usage statistics amongst black and whites is similar,” said Mr Burt.
“In the House of Assembly on Friday, I said that as a country, we must maintain the energy to continue to fix injustice. It is my hope, when we move forward with making additional changes t legislation, legislation that will dismantle laws, practices, and policies of systemic racism that negatively impact black people, they’ll be met with the same energy for real change in equity that we saw on display this weekend.
“In April, then Minister Jamahl Simmons invited the public to provide their opinions on current laws that they believe should be updated.
“The objective was to get public feedback to assist the government with updating, reforming, and repealing existing laws and introducing new laws that will benefit the people of Bermuda, because it’s important that the government listens to the people it represents. And this online forum provides opportunity for us to engage in meaningful consultation, so that persons can provide their feedback.”
He also noted that the Minister of Community Affairs and Sports, Lovitta Foggo, “has reopened the Bermuda Race Relations discussion”.
“In order to move forward we must address and improve the relationships between the various sub communities on this island,” he said.
“Minister Foggo did open that up, and it was engaged in with her Ministry earlier, but she’s reopening that consultation and persons are invited to visit forum.gov.bm to add their thoughts to these issues.”
He also thanked “everyone who joined the march this weekend”.
“The vast majority of Bermudians I encountered were wearing a mask and where possible exercised physical distancing,” said Mr Burt.
” I encourage everyone, who may have been out on the streets, to take advantage of the free COVID testing which will be available next weekend – and you can visit coronavirus.gov.bm to book your appointment today.”