Bean: Time we were masters of our own destiny
Opposition leader Marc Bean launched what appeared to be a thinly disguised campaign for Independence on the grounds of Government House last night, claiming it was time for Bermudians to become “the masters of our own destiny”.
An estimated 2,000 protesters met at the official residence of Governor George Fergusson at around 5.30pm, responding to calls by the Progressive Labour Party last week to demonstrate against a controversial ruling by the Governor. Mr Fergusson had earlier rejected a motion — tabled by the PLP and passed in the House of Assembly — for Government House to set up a Commission of Inquiry into historic land grabs.
Describing the protest as “more than just symbolism”, Mr Bean said that the relationship between the Island and the UK had to evolve, and that Bermudians should prepare to “compete against everyone else who is trying to marginalise you in your own country”.
Supporters began gathering at the Langton Hill entrance of Government House just after 5pm amid a heavy police presence. Some marchers carried placards with messages such as 'Bermudians are treated like second class citizens', and 'They are stealing our land, now our voices. We must investigate'. Others carried giant PLP banners.
Mr Bean arrived at the head of the column to cheers just before 5.45pm, and, flanked by fellow PLP MPs and Senators, led the good-natured parade along a path through the expansive, manicured grounds of Government House, accompanied by the sound of banging drums and cowbells.
After arriving at a designated stopping point where several police officers and the media had already gathered, Mr Bean mounted some steps before turning to address hundreds of cheering supporters.
“Your desire for equality and justice and the restoration of democracy is evident by your presence here today,” Mr Bean told the crowd.
“In a few moments the Acting Governor will come out to meet us and we will present to her an eight-page document listing all our grievances in regards to His Excellency the Governor's decision not to allow for a Commission of Inquiry into historic and modern-day land thefts in this country.
“In addition there's also grievances that point out the apparent collusion between Government House and the One Bermuda Alliance Government, not over one month or one issue but over 18 months and at least 20 issues.
“Let me be clear — do we expect the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to whom this document is addressed, to respond accordingly to our wishes and desires for justice?”
When the crowd roared an emphatic “yes”, Mr Bean repeated: “Let me ask you again — is it your expectation?”
To groans of “no”, Mr Bean went on: “The idea, in exercising your democratic rights is when we think there's not an opportunity to get justice, to accomplish the goal that you're seeking, you have to press forward.
“So even though historically we shouldn't expect the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to respond to your demands, it's through your willpower and your desire to assert yourself and your desire to take your rightful place in your own country ...” The remainder of that sentence was drowned out by deafening roars of approval.
Mr Bean continued: “Let it never be questioned that the Progressive Labour Party is here to serve the greater interests and greater good of this country. For rest assured you will always be put first from this day going forward.
“The relationship between us and the UK and the One Bermuda Alliance Government and you has to evolve. That relationship must evolve. And once it evolves, you have to be ready to pick up, cooperate with one another so we can compete against everyone else who is trying to marginalise you in your own country.
“So unity is strength and the adage that people united will never be defeated is a good reminder for the young people who are here today. It's a good reminder for our elders who have fought blood, sweat and tears. It's a reminder that if we don't have the courage, if we succumb to fear, then the next generation will not have a Bermuda that's worthy to inherit.
“This is actually more than just symbolism. If we don't get the required response from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office I'm going to ask of you to mobilise again until we get justice.
“Brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen — let this be the start of us becoming the masters of our destiny.”
Ms Ferson, who is Acting Governor in Mr Fergusson's absence, stood with other officials several hundred yards behind the crowds throughout Mr Bean's delivery.
She then walked to the PLP contingent and accepted Mr Bean's eight-page letter of complaints. Although she did not speak publicly, it is understood that she will be forwarding the letter to officials in London.
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