Robinson’s pepper-mist’ comments resurface
A would-be MP was engulfed in a storm of controversy after a clip from a satire show, where he played down the use of pepper spray during a protest, resurfaced yesterday.
Dwayne Robinson, a One Bermuda Alliance senator is due to go head-to-head with Jason Hayward, a Progressive Labour Party senator, in the Pembroke Central by-election tomorrow.
He was seen in a clip from online politics show It’s That Type of Party next to a photograph of his opponent discussing the December 2, 2016 incident, when people were pepper-sprayed as they blocked the entrance to the House of Assembly in a protest over the public-private redevelopment of the airport.
Mr Robinson told copresenter Trae Cannonier, the son of OBA leader Craig Cannonier, in the almost three-year-old segment: “They got pepper mist; it was not pepper-sprayed.”
He added: “If it was pepper spray, she would have hit the asphalt like a sack of potatoes. And she wouldn’t have been able to give you an interview because she probably would have been in the hospital recovering.”
Mr Robinson apologised on social media after the clip was posted. He added: “Many had warned me of the dirty side of politics but now I am seeing it first hand.”
Mr Robinson, who was branded insensitive by posters under the clip, said: “It was a satire news network where we took on controversial personas.”
He later told The Royal Gazette: “This clip is almost three years old and, at that time, I was still a frustrated and undecided voter.
“However, I sincerely apologise for causing offence. I did not convey my opinion in a respectful manner.”
Mr Robinson said: “When we released it in 2016, we received backlash and realised we had been insensitive, so we decided to remove it from Facebook.
“At the time, we overlooked removing it from YouTube, but it has now been taken down.”
Mr Robinson added: “I have matured in the last three years. I have gained more experience, I have just got married and I am older.
“I also stepped down as a host of ITTP over a year ago when I became a senator.
“I am still committed to working on behalf of the constituents of Constituency 17 should they select me. I vow to prove myself through action.”
The Opposition leader said the use of the throwback video, posted yesterday, was designed to influence the by-election.
He added he stood “100 per cent behind Dwayne” and that he was “tired of the PLP’s dirty tricks”.
The Facebook post was not put up by the PLP, but Mr Cannonier said the video had “clearly been carefully edited to suit their narrative to swing the voters in Pembroke Central”.
He accused the party of deflection and “gutter tactics”.
A PLP spokeswoman responded: “The words of Dwayne Robinson speak for themselves. The intent of Mr Robinson’s remarks are accurately represented.
“If you watch the entire show, Dwayne and his cohost, Craig Cannonier’s son Trae, were making crass jokes of one of the darkest days in Bermuda’s history when innocent seniors were attacked by the police with pepper spray.
“This is a question of character. While Dwayne Robinson, after the fact, chose to make light of the fact that our seniors were pepper-sprayed, our candidate, Jason Hayward, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our seniors, standing up for the rights of Bermudians on that sad day.”
The controversy came as the Bermuda Public Services Union announced yesterday that Mr Hayward had stepped down as president.
Mr Hayward declined to comment last night on the reasons for his decision to quit his post, and referred questions to the BPSU.
A statement from Edward Ball, the general secretary of the BPSU, confirmed that Mr Hayward would not run for a third term as president for 2020 to 2023.
Mr Hayward has been a BPSU an executive officer for more than ten years and Mr Ball thanked him for his “innovative, fearless and dedicated leadership”.
Mr Ball said the union’s general council had appointed Lloyquita Symonds as president until the end of the BPSU delegates’ conference in March next year.
• To view th One Bermuda Alliance statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”
• UPDATE: this article has been amended to correct the date of the airport protest to December 2, 2016. We apologise for the error
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