Systemic racism’s end or votes? What say you, Mr Premier?
As I sit in a prison cell as a young black male with time fleeting, I listen to David Burt’s weekly press conferences and I can’t help but be confused.
This as the world comes to grips with the murder of George Floyd, a black man who was unarmed and killed by white police officers.
Our beloved premier took the opportunity to speak on the matter. How could we be outraged at systemic racism when we have the same issues here in Bermuda?
A quote that stood out was: “Racism has been with us for a long time and we keep sweeping it under the rug.”
What a great and powerful speech from my premier, one that was delivered at the right time on the right stage for the nation to hear.
Great man or great politician?
I pray it’s the former. I can’t help but be sceptical time and time again, caught up in the moment, but continue to be hoodwinked in the long run.
Our leaders speak on topics that pull at our heartstrings, but only when the purpose is to feed their agenda. Does our government really care about dealing with systemic racism on a whole or just the part that allows them to change opinion and gain votes?
Systemic racism is a tool that continues to be used by both governments within the constitution of the judicial system. Our beloved court system in modern times has been wrongfully convicting black men at an alarming rate.
We glorify it within this broken system when in reality it should be demonised. It operates on a system that rivals Jim Crow in the 1960s. Many men were wrongfully convicted and unfairly prosecuted under the guise of the system. The reality of this system is just smoke and mirrors used to distract us from the broken system.
I do not advocate the violence in the community, contrary to popular belief. I would be the first to admit that I have a chequered past, but this does not mean I do not deserve a fair trial. Is that not my right as a citizen? But unfortunately, I am not alone when it comes to this matter at hand.
Mostly all of this has taken place in modern times; blacks for the most part have not had the opportunity for a fair trial. All the way through the process of the trial, the oppression becomes more obvious — from the jury selection, to the biased print media and news coverage, to the bullying tactic used by the thirteenth juror, also known as the judge!
One may say: “Mr Trott, you are exaggerating.” To that, I would respond only with facts. First, the jury selection, which is the most important part of the trial. This is a sacred and trusted process where the prosecution with little help from the defence decides who is allowed to be on the jury. These people hold the power to decide your fate when it comes to weighing up the evidence and reaching a verdict at the end of the trial. This is the most crucial part but, unfortunately, it is only a show, more or less a façade.
It is supposed to be a random process where numbers are drawn and the selection is made. Unfortunately, with systemic racism in play there is no such thing as random. With the stakes being so high they can leave nothing to chance.
With that being said, they are given the opportunity to have a favourable outcome by stacking the deck. The prosecution has the right to stand down unlimited jurors while the defence team can stand down only three. Forty-four to three, that is the score. That doesn’t sound fair, right? But who needs to be fair when systemic racism and oppression are involved.
So, the question is, how is that racism? Take a guess who the prosecution stands down? In this case, it was every young or middle-aged black person. Versus who they allowed, which was white people who looked conservative, who looked to be middle-aged or older. With the one or two conservative black people. What happened to having jurors who represented my peers?
Furthermore, why are they stood down without any reason? Why aren’t they allowed to do their civic duty as a citizen of Bermuda?
If they were picked at random, how is this process so blatantly disregarded? Not to mention that the prosecution has a list of potential jurors months in advance. Who says that they’re not working in partnership with the police to do background checks on them to see who will be more inclined to give them a favourable outcome through the most powerful tool named profiling?
As you can see, I am already at a loss. Profiling is a powerful tool we use to judge people on the way they come across. So why not put like-minded, pro-prosecution people on the jury?
Why is this process even allowed to go on? It does not happen anywhere else in the world. Simple politics, Bermuda has a conviction rate that rivals the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
One may ask, how is that so? We do not have one quarter of the resources as the FBI. The FBI prevents terrorist acts before they even happen, covering the whole of America. While the Bermuda Police Service cannot prevent the multiple attempted murders or murders one block away from their headquarters.
Now can we start to see the bigger picture? It’s statistics. Bermuda operates on a catch or convicted system. If crime goes unsolved, they lose votes, governments get replaced, police commissioners get fired, a paradigm of power gets shifted. So, if we cannot prevent crimes they find a way to convict and then call it justice. They don’t care if the persons are involved; it is just a matter of balancing the scales.
I know I may sound bitter, so just ask my family or ask Romano Mills’s mother how she feels about her son doing life in prison for something he did not do or Jeremiah Dill or Khyri Smith-Williams. I could name 15 inmates at Westgate Correctional Facility who are serving a prison sentence for a crime that they did not commit.
Nevertheless, back to our marvellous premier. He is also guilty of being a part of this systemic racism. If not him, I’m sure that his Cabinet is well aware of this dark process. How could they not be? Two of his Cabinet ministers are lawyers — the Minister of National Security, who was a star prosecutor and who I am sure benefited from this process, while the other is the Minister of Health, another brilliant lawyer.
What are they doing to help the system? What would Dame Lois Browne-Evans think? What would Julian Hall say to this if he was asked that, in 2020, we are still using the laws that the oppressor created?
The same laws used to continue to oppress us for the sake of trying to hold power. A real Willie Lynch system, a well-oiled machine that has not seized yet.
I, along with my legal team of Victoria Greening and Mark Pettingill, have decided to do something about this process. We have launched a civil lawsuit challenging the Constitution on the jury selection process. I decided to make a brave stance because I cannot and will not sit around and allow nothing to happen. With the help of my team, I aim to fix a broken system.
The prosecution’s team have already stated that if I win my civil suit, they will appeal all the way to the Privy Council. Why would they predict that it will go my way? Is this an admission of guilt? They know that the system that they work with is clearly wrong, yet they choose not to even the playing field.
Why have countless Cabinet ministers, attorneys-general and premiers stood by and done nothing to address this issue. Would our present premier, who resembles and relates to me, do the same and sit by and do nothing? Or would he really tackle systemic racism on a whole?
I pray that he is different from the rest. I hope he is real. I long for the chance to believe in someone who says they are just like us. Is he true or are we being hoodwinked yet again?
Could this be because street niggas don’t vote? Could this be connected to a demographic?
I pray a leader will do what is the right thing and fix this system. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.
Well, Mr Burt, I have taken the first. Do you care to join me?
• Jahmico Trott was sentenced to 25 years in prison in April 2018 for attempted murder and use of a firearm. He is awaiting retrial and approved the publication of this opinion against the advice of counsel
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