Lack of love leads many to the streets
A need for love and acceptance led many youths to the streets, an anti-violence event heard at the weekend.
Ralph Burrows, who spent more than two decades living the street lifestyle, said he grew up in a home where love was a foreign word.
“When I started hanging on the streets and using, I felt love,” he told the audience at a packed anti-violence event held over the weekend.
“That’s where my acceptance came from — the guys on the streets.”
Mr Burrows was one of several speakers at a pre-launch party for the second issue of Visionz magazine. The anti-violence publication is the idea of Desmond Crockwell.
According to Mr Burrows, much of today’s antisocial activity is not motivated by what many might think.
“People say it’s about drugs and territory — that’s not what it’s about,” he said.
“These little guys are poisoned, and they’re looking for love. Some of them are not getting it from home — they’re getting it from a guy on the street.”
Mr Burrows described his life for more than 20 years as a cycle of “getting high, committing crimes and going to prison”.
On November 27, 2010, he was shot twice while riding a motorcycle in the St Monica’s Road area of Pembroke.
The shooting left him paralysed and dependent on a wheelchair. He was 41 years old at the time.
The oldest of five children, Mr Burrows said he often was “posted to the position of a parent” taking care of his siblings while his mother worked.
“I hated that — because I didn’t have a childhood,” he said.
“I had the main job, so whenever things went wrong, I was the one punished. So I used to be angry.”
But Mr Burrows said: “It is not just youths with hard home lives that are drawn to the streets.”
“I’ve seen the guys that come from two parent, Christian homes involved in this craziness.
“It’s not always these little guys from single-parent homes.”
Ceble Crockwell, who lost her brother Fiqre Crockwell to gun violence, said they were brought up in a stable environment.
Ms Crockwell added: “Fiqre and I were raised in a two-parent, family home.”
“Morals were instilled and rules were set. The streets never appealed to us — we had love in our home.”
Fiqre Crockwell, 30, a well-known cricketer, was fatally shot in Pembroke last year on National Heroes Day.
Bermuda’s gun problem, Ms Crockwell said, had “no type”.
A “small number” of people — known to the community and law enforcement — are “holding our island hostage”, she said.
Ms Crockwell added: “We need Bermuda to come together as one.”
She said that parents with knowledge of their son’s involvement in gun crime needed to step up.
Ms Crockwell added: “You’re just as bad as your sons.”
The country, Ms Crockwell said, had lost its sense of community.
And she added: “This is a long, lonely road if we don’t speak up.”
Andre Minors agreed the violence impacting the island was a community issue.
He said: “We all are contributing, one way or another, to the state of our society.”
Mr Minors, a former prison inmate, said he came up “somewhat on the rough side”, “not by any fault of my parents, but simply by a matter of choice”.
“I have spent time in every individual police station from St George’s to Somerset,” he said.
“When I was in the street, we fought everybody and anything that came my way. Because we didn’t care about our lives and we didn’t care about the value of other lives around us.”
He described himself at that period of his life as an “out of control monster”.
Ultimately, Mr Minors was sentenced to 11 years in prison for attempted murder. While inside, in addition to pursuing academic achievements, he said he found God.
He added: “I was released from prison in 1998. To this day, 2017, I’ve not even had so much as a traffic violation.”
Mr Minors said addressing the violence must start in the home.
He added: “Take hold of your children. Teach them, encourage them, show them consistently, even when they refuse to hear it the first time.”
He said the “psychological, emotional, and bad behaviour” of absentee fathers would show up in the youth in the years ahead.
Mr Minors added: “I am a testament to it.”
“Young men, growing up with that sort of weight on his shoulders, who doesn’t have the capacity to deal with that — and you wonder why they’re out in the streets pulling guns, and knives?”
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