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January Year in review: Murders 'a blemish' on Island's reputation

The parents of murder victim Perry Puckerin, Maxzine and Perry Puckerin Sr, hold a photo of their son who was gunned down outside of Crawl Club in January.

Haiti's devastating earthquake and the rising incidence of gun violence on the Island dominated the headlines for most of January.Six men were gunned down between May 2009 and January 2010 three in December in the space of 12 days.Kumi Harford, 30, was killed on St Monica's Road; Gary Cann was murdered in Somerset, and Shane Minors was shot dead outside Friswell's Hill home.On January 3, Perry Puckerin was shot dead at Hamilton Workingmen's Club at 9.30pm, the first fatality of 2010. Six more men would be murdered in the following eight months.Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox described Bermuda's 2009 murder rate as a “blemish” on the Island's reputation.She said the six deaths pushed Bermuda's per capita murder rate higher than at any other time in the past decade it now exceeded that of London, New York and the global average.“When you have a series of murders in such a short period of time, it has to be worrisome to everyone, especially to the families who have lost loved ones, the friends, the neighbourhood, the community and to business. It hits all of us hard.“This hits at our economic lifeblood. I have no doubt that this is a blemish on Bermuda as an international financial centre.”One Community United held an event to show support for those affected by recent violence on Island.Pembroke churches, representatives from Government's Mirrors programme and organisations and individuals from all over Bermuda met at Victor Scott to show support for those communities surrounding the school that were affected by violence.Commissioner Michael DeSilva and his deputy Mike Jackman announced a new Gang and Violence Reduction Strategy. Part of its first ever policing plan, it set out police targets and aims for the calendar year.Those aims involved identifying prolific offenders; having the Drugs Unit dedicate manpower toward reducing supply and seizing assets; a review of the service by officers from the FBI, US and UK; gang disruption training workshops; using covert technology for surveillance; and special investigative training for prosecution counsels and police investigators.Government unveiled a raft of anti-gang measures to tackle gang and gun violence including making parents liable under the Parental Responsibility Bill 2010 and giving police new powers which would enable officers to disperse groups, confiscate items such as hooded tops and face scarves and temporarily close licensed venues.Attorny General Sen Kim Wilson said the legislative changes would give police and the courts the necessary tools to reduce criminal activities, particularly those related to anti-social behaviour and gang violence.Family campaigner Sheelagh Cooper denounced the plan to impose fines of up to $10,000 on the “irresponsible or negligent” parents of children who commit crimes as “utter nonsense”.And lawyer Rick Woolridge called on Bermuda to introduce the British-style anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) to deal with misbehaving youth.Mr Woolridge said it could help prevent juveniles from breaking the law or causing distress in the community without criminalising them at an early age.Bermudian children expressed their fears over shootings and admitted to having nightmares about gunshots.Students at Northlands and Victor Scott wrote on Dr Martin Luther King Day, about how the violence has affected them.Dionne Tuzo's class at Northlands wrote ‘We Have a Dream', a short essay in which they laid out their hopes for Bermuda:“We have a dream that Bermuda will be a safe place again because we are afraid.We have a dream that all people will be kind to each other.We have a dream that all of the fighting will stop. We have a dream that people will stop shooting each other so that we can go outside to play.We have a dream that no one else gets hurt and goes to the hospital. We have a dream that we won't hear scary sounds at night like gunshots so we won't have nightmares.We have a dream that there will be no more killing.We have a dream that no one else will go to prison.We have a dream that Bermudians will live in peace.We have a dream just like Dr Martin Luther King Jr.”