Archdeacon, 86, to attend protest march

  • Determined to march: Archdeacon Arnold Hollis

    Determined to march: Archdeacon Arnold Hollis

  • Seeking to understand: Che Barker, wife Liz Pimentel, and daughter Lola (Photograph supplied)

    Seeking to understand: Che Barker, wife Liz Pimentel, and daughter Lola (Photograph supplied)

Anglican priest Arnold Hollis may be 86 years old, but he said he planned to take part in the Black Lives Matter march in Hamilton tomorrow.

Dr Hollis vowed: “I’ll be there — even if someone has to push me in a wheelchair.”

The Archdeacon Emeritus and rector of St James’s Anglican Church in Sandys admitted he was concerned about contracting Covid-19 in the crowd of people.

But he said he was more worried about the sickness in society highlighted by George Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

Dr Hollis said he was sickened when he first saw the video of the death, where he begged arresting officers for help as he struggled to breathe.

He added: “I watched in horror as the policeman knelt on George Floyd’s neck. I sat riveted to the screen with total disbelief at what I was seeing — the policeman nonchalantly looking disinterested with his left hand in his pocket.

“The minutes ticked on and when the paramedics arrived and lifted George up to put him on the stretcher, George’s head fell back, and I exclaimed to myself, ‘My God, he is dead’.

“I felt sick to my stomach. And then the marches of protest and the reactions of world leaders began to spread over the world. I lost myself in the intensity and meaning of it all.”

He praised the announcement by the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Anglican Bishop of Bermuda, whose church’s history included oppression and collusion with racist power structures.

Gil Tucker, the retired chairman of professional services firm EY, said he would not attend the march because of health concerns, but backed it to the hilt.

He explained: “I’m a senior. I won’t be attending, but I support the march wholeheartedly.”

Mr Tucker said the possibility of police brutality was something black men had learnt to live with, regardless of their station in life.

His added his own son, now in his thirties, lived in Washington.

Mr Tucker said: “I have to say to my son, this is how it is. If you get pulled over, just do what they tell you, whether you think it is wrong or right. I have always said I can help you at the police station, but I can’t help you if you are in the morgue.

“All my life, my father, Rodney Tucker, certainly talked to me and my brother about it. It is just something that has been woven into our lives for survival.

“It doesn’t really matter whether you think of yourself as very successful or a regular guy. They just see you as black. That is one of the things that all black men have in common. It is just very sad.”

Mr Tucker said that he had hoped in the past that the evils of racism would be erased.

He added: “We will see what happens here.”

Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre, said she would be at the march.

She added: “The Women’s Resource Centre stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States of America, the world and, indeed, Bermuda.

“It is very hopeful to see the level of global support in the call to action against the murder of George Floyd and way too many others including women, both historically and recently.”

Che Barker, a retail sales executive, said he would be attending with his family including his wife, Liz Pimentel, and 12-year-old daughter, Lola.

He said he watched the video of Mr Floyd’s death with his daughter and talked about it with her, because he wanted her to understand.

Mr Barker said he was of mixed racial background and he had experienced racism.

He added he was bullied in school, called the n-word by classmates.

Mr Barker said, as an adult, he was pulled over by police as he visited Florida with his family.

He added: “We had a lot of people in the car. I was driving along and a police officer pulled up beside me. As soon as he looked at me, he put his blue lights on.”

He was pulled over, told to get out of the car and asked for identification.

But Mr Tucker said: “As soon as they saw my father-in-law, who is white, sitting next to me, they calmed down. I think being afraid of police is part of the black experience.”

Mr Barker’s parents are retired police officers Gertie and Alan Barker.

Stuart Hayward, an environmental activist, said: “This issue is worthy of three principles. Speak without being offensive; listen without being defensive and if you have to disagree do so without being disagreeable.”

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Published Jun 6, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 6, 2020 at 8:38 am)

Archdeacon, 86, to attend protest march

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