Sports clubs violence must be tackled’
A bid to tackle violence linked to sports clubs will be expensive, but a failure to deal with the problem will cost the country even more, an Opposition MP warned yesterday.
Ben Smith, the Shadow Minister for Social Development and Sport, has asked representatives from a variety of sectors to “thrash out” a solution.
Mr Smith said: “We need to identify the people at risk who are involved in sports, as well as in schools, and come up with solutions to their issues.
“We need to have real alternatives to the gang life and that will take a collaboration between all stakeholders and both parties.”
Mr Smith was speaking after the death of 25-year-old Danshun Swann, who was stabbed and died after a fight erupted between more than 20 men outside Southampton Rangers Sports Club on Monday.
It was the latest violent incident to have happened in the vicinity of sports clubs in recent years.
Mr Smith said: “The sports clubs are an easy scapegoat because things are more likely to happen where people congregate.
“Certain sports are also getting the black eye because they are collecting a high number of at-risk people.”
Mr Smith added: “These are just symptoms of a deeper issue in Bermuda. We have people who have been left out of the riches of this country.
“It is hard enough for someone who does everything right, abides by the rules, gets an education and a job to survive in Bermuda.
“But when you are a young person struggling with issues at home, influences in your neighbourhood and a path full of obstacles, it can be easy to give up.
“We can’t let them give up and we can’t keep playing the blame game.”
Mr Smith, One Bermuda Alliance MP for Southampton West Central, added: “I think it would be a good idea for the organisations involved, the police, the Governor, the ministers of national security, sport, education and finance to sit down as a group and thrash out the issues and come up with some solutions.
“This is not down to any one club or organisation to solve, it can only be solved by collective, well-funded and co-ordinated action from all the stakeholders involved.”
He said a ban on known troublemakers from clubs would not stop violence and suggested more support from police or other organisations could be offered to clubs most affected.
Mr Smith added: “At the end of the day, responsibility lies with the individual who commits acts of violence.
“Beyond that, we have to look at whether the police have the necessary funds, we need to investigate the causes of crime, we need to look at education, employment — a whole raft of issues.”
Two men, aged 24 and 25, have been arrested in connection with Mr Swann’s death.
The stabbing came almost three years after the gun murder of Rickai Swan, 26, outside the Southampton Rangers ground.
Violence erupted in the club’s car park almost exactly a year later and two men were stabbed and left fighting for their lives.
A man and woman were injured last October when a gunman on a motorcycle fired into the club’s car park.
A man was also injured when he was attacked by three others in a daylight machete and knife attack in the club’s car park during a family fun day in 2012.
Other incidents include the gun murder of Jahni Outerbridge, 31, in the Mid-Atlantic Boat and Sports Club car park on North Shore Road, Devonshire, last year.
Raymond Butterfield, 28, a footballer with First Division side Wolves, was stabbed to death less than two months later outside the Blue Waters Anglers Club in Hamilton.
Michael Weeks, the Minister of Social Development and Sports, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
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