MP on throat-slitting’ gesture
Opposition MP Zane DeSilva has given a detailed account of his reasons for launching a police complaint about what he called a “throat-slitting gesture” delivered at Progressive Labour Party MPs during Friday’s session of Parliament.
He also categorically denied that Opposition Leader Marc Bean had made an offensive remark to Yahaira Richards, wife of One Bermuda Alliance MP Sylvan Richards.
An OBA party source responded: “Typical that they would go after a woman”, but otherwise there was no response from the governing party, or Mr Richards.
Mrs Richards was present in the public gallery of the House of Assembly through much of the last sitting of Parliament, and several Opposition MPs told The Royal Gazette they had observed what they felt were disconcerting facial expressions and gestures directed at PLP Members.
Shadow Economic Development Minister Wayne Furbert said: “There were many of us who observed her unnatural behaviour.
“She gestured to us, moving her mouth — you can’t do that under the rules of the house.
“I felt nervous about it — I didn’t think it was directed toward me. I just thought something was very wrong. I observed her put her finger across her throat. It was just out of the blue — I thought up until then that it had been a pretty good day.”
Mr DeSilva estimated that the gestures started at about 6pm.
“I’ve been portrayed as being friendly with her — I play golf sometimes at Belmont. Apparently she has worked at the bar there. I have ordered a drink there and that’s it.
“We’re not friends. I’ve never had a conversation with her.”
Mr DeSilva said he had not seen Mrs Richards in the public gallery before Friday, and that in the early part of the evening she had seemed to be “tense or frowning”.
“Around 6pm she looked at me and went like this,” he said, drawing a finger across his throat. Mr DeSilva said Mr Bean and MP Derrick Burgess also saw it. They conferred.
“I pointed to myself, to ask her, and she did it twice again,” he said. “I told Mr Bean to report it to the Speaker.”
Mr DeSilva said he reported the gesture to the policeman on duty at the door, adding: “He told me that if you did that in public you could be locked up for making a threat.”
The PLP confirmed that Party Whip Lovitta Foggo had reported the matter to the Speaker of the House, Randy Horton. It was unclear whether it had been reported to the Sergeant at Arms, Albert Fox.
Mr DeSilva, Mr Bean, Mr Burgess and MP Jamahl Simmons left at the 10pm close of business, after Mr Horton shut down the House due to heckling among MPs. The group were going to a Bermuda Industrial Union party.
“Marc said nothing to her. Nothing whatsoever. I was right next to him,” Mr DeSilva said.
“The OBA response has been that I made this gesture to her. The record will show that she made it to me.”
Mr DeSilva said that as the group filed into the crowded foyer, Mrs Richards followed, “shouting” words he could not make out.
According to Mr DeSilva, Mr Bean and other Opposition MPs headed to the elevator. Mr Richards intervened, ushering his wife to one side, and pointed his finger in Mr Bean’s face, shouting at him.
He said there was no time for the police officer to intervene, and that his path to the incident was obstructed by other MPs. Mr DeSilva also said that OBA MPs Craig Cannonier and Shawn Crockwell intervened next, with someone shouting “take your hands off” or words to that effect.
The group, accompanied by Mr Simmons’s wife Sherri, entered the elevator and left. Mr DeSilva said he went to the Hamilton Police Station to report the threat.
Police have confirmed the lodging of a complaint of threatening behaviour but have not elaborated on the matter.
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