BIU condemns ill-treatment of African-Americans

  • Wake-up call: Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Wake-up call: Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The island’s blue-collar union is backing rallies to protest at police brutality inflicted on black people in America.

Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said he was “100 per cent” behind the demonstrations, which have spread from the US around the world — including Bermuda.

Mr Furbert said yesterday: “What’s happening in America right now, it’s really unjust. We’ve got a lot of situations in Bermuda that’s been unjust.

“People feel a need to protest. I can say that if we’re invited or we’re not invited, we’ll probably join in the protests.”

Demonstrations erupted across the US and spread around the world after the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as he was being arrested.

Protests have also been held outside the United States Consulate in Devonshire.

Police officer Derek Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, was fired the day after the incident and now faces a charge of second-degree murder.

Three other officers involved in the arrest and also dismissed, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, have been since charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Mr Floyd.

Demonstrators gathered outside the US Consul General on Monday and yesterday to oppose the appointment of beauty products tycoon Lee Rizzuto Jr, a contributor to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, and also to protest against US police brutality against minorities.

The appointment of Mr Rizzuto, who has no diplomatic experience, as the replacement for US State Department veteran Constance Dierman, who will leave her post a year early, was announced late last month.

The rallies also supported the Black Lives Matter campaign against racism and violence against black people.

Another protest is planned for Sunday.

Mr Furbert said the BIU had “a rich history” of standing up to injustice.

He said the widespread demonstrations were “a wake-up call not just for the United States”.

Mr Furbert added: “It should be a wake-up call for the world.”

He said: “It’s time for us to really pay attention to what has been happening all around the world as it relates to these injustices.”

Mr Furbert said he had monitored coverage of the American demonstrations.

He added: “This is not a black-and-white issue.

“If you look at who has been protesting over the last eight days or eight nights in America, 80 per cent or 90 per cent of the people are white. That’s a fact.”

Mr Furbert said “the American people have had enough and they want something to be done about it”.

He criticised Mr Trump’s threat on Sunday to deploy the military to halt protests.

He said that this weekend’s demonstration “should be supported” and that he had attended the Big Conversation race relations programme launched in Bermuda in 2007.

Mr Furbert added: “This white lady stood up, and she was straight up. She never really realised that people were going through this.

“She’s now going through the same thing. You can imagine how someone of my colour felt about those kinds of issues.

“That’s why I say we just keep kicking the can down the road.”

He said: “Now, it’s kind of like the living wage. Every country around the world is saying, you know what, we need to address this.

“If you look at every industrialised country around the world, they’re having a conversation about this inequality.

“Why? Because you have to now. Because you’re forced to deal with it. It’s not going away. It’s only getting worse.

“We have a perfect opportunity in this country right now to deal with a lot of issues that should be dealt with. One hundred per cent.”

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Published Jun 4, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 4, 2020 at 8:10 am)

BIU condemns ill-treatment of African-Americans

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