PLP spokesman says he has resigned over offensive tweets
Progressive Labour Party spokesman Jamahl Simmons has been accused of inciting violence and hate by making “irresponsible” comments on the social media network Twitter.
And Mr Simmons claimed late yesterday, via Twitter, to have resigned from his position within the party after commenting on a number of subjects, including the execution of business bosses and watching society burn down.
The tweets starkly contrast with Mr Simmon’s statement in 2010 that “assassination is never a laughing matter”, when he spoke out at allegedly threatening online remarks directed to the then Premier Ewart Brown.
In several posts on Sunday he tweeted: “What if we decided that if your business model requires you to abuse your workers and pay slave wages that u need to get out of our country?
“What if we stopped supporting businesses that don’t hire us, pay us slave wages and give nothing to the community?
“What would happen if we stopped shooting each other and started putting bullets in the heads of those who hate us and won’t hire us?”
“We still on this ‘we will always need to bring in workers’ + ‘There aint enough qualified Bermudians to fill these jobs’ BS.”
On Tuesday he wrote: “If you are excluded from the society what do you care if society burns? You aint a part of it anyway. It might even be fun to watch it burn.”
And last week Mr Simmons threatened two correspondents — ‘Insulted’ and ‘Sydney’ — who had written letters to The Royal Gazette editor criticising a radio talk show hosted by his wife, Sherri Simmons.
“Don’t tell my wife, but I’m off to slap senseless anyone who looks like the type of tw*t 2 pen a letter under the pen name ‘insulted’,” Mr Simmons wrote, later adding: “I found insulted and sydney. Now nobody will ever find them again.”
On Tuesday The Royal Gazette contacted Mr Simmons — who describes himself as a “PR expert specialising in taking your message to the people and bringing the people to your business” — asking if he stood by his comments.
Although he did not respond directly to this newspaper, he did tweet a message which read: “Breaking News: OBA tries to deflect imminent ThinkMedia JetGate story with indignation over tweets by a political has been.”
Later on Tuesday he added: “When I’m not being inflammatory and inciting violence I like to kick back with a martini and watch Dr Who.”
Yesterday evening he tweeted he had resigned as spokesman for the Opposition.
“Tomorrow, the OBA will attempt 2 distract from the corruption allegations surrounding JeyGate by attacking me for me personal views,” he said.
“As these were my personal views and not endorsed or delivered in my role as P[ublic] R[elations] O[fficer] to the PLP, I will not allow them to be used against my party.
“Thus I officially resign as PRO 2 the PLP to allow the JetGate issue to be pursued without being deflected. I remain a PLP supporter always.”
Yesterday Mr Simmons’ comments were condemned by Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley.
“Social media is a valuable tool by which to express opinions and vibrant debate should be encouraged,” Mr Dunkley said
“However, it is insensitive and irresponsible to incite violence or hate. Posts about the use of firearms or violence are not acceptable.
“These post cross the line and add nothing to the positive discussion we need to have about fixing Bermuda’s problems.”
One Bermuda Alliance chairman Thad Hollis added: “Given that we have legislated protection for workers and that the Unions work with all workers to ensure that any abuse is swiftly addressed and remedied, I am surprised at these comments.”
Four years ago, Mr Simmons took action against a blogger for making allegedly threatening remarks against former Premier Dr Brown.
In August 2010, when Mr Simmons was working as Dr Brown’s press secretary, a poster on the forum Bermuda Is Another World wrote: “OK. point me to the grassy knoll then. actually that would be better now thinking about it. I’ll actually have a better shot view, and no one will ever see me. and I can leave without a trace.”
The comments were directed at plans for a farewell gala for Premier Brown.
Mr Simmons reported the comment to the police, claiming it suggested “the potential for political violence” and adding that “the so-called joke was no laughing matter”.
“While we encourage and support freedom of speech — including anonymous speech — comments alluding to violence and assassination must be taken seriously,” he said at the time. “Assassination is never a laughing matter.”
Yesterday The Royal Gazette e-mailed Opposition leader Marc Bean asking if he and the PLP endorsed Mr Simmons’ comments. No response was received by press time last night.
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