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‘We must take our community back’ Weeks tells packed meeting on crime

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Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, speaks at a town hall meetingon crime. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Residents are being urged to turn in friends and relatives who have committed crimes in an effort to stop an escalating “crisis” in violent crime on the island.

Michael Weeks, the Minister for National Security, made the call at a public meeting on community violence and antisocial behaviour last night.

In a hard-hitting presentation at the St Paul AME Centennial Hall in Hamilton, Mr Weeks said that those who did nothing were “complicit” in helping criminals to avoid justice and were aiding the increase in violence.

Mr Weeks told a packed hall: “Let me be honest here. I’m going to be frank, which may offend. If our goal is to eliminate violence and antisocial behaviour, all the talk and all the programmes and all the millions spent aren’t going to do it.

“The number of murders and community indifference show that our country is getting worse. The trajectory is going in the wrong direction so we need as a community to do more.

“This is a community problem, and while a robust police and judicial system is part of a solution, it is not the solution.

“We all have a part to play and if we do nothing then we are complicit. We have to recognise that we have to make everyone accountable.

“We have to call out some neighbours, friends and family. We know who knows who is benefiting and covering up for the perpetrators.”

ME Weeks added: “Enough is enough. It’s time to step up and stop this madness. How bad does it have to get before right-minded Bermudians have had enough and then decide to step up?

“Doing nothing won’t work. Sitting back hoping that someone else will fix the problem won’t work. Believing that it’s a gang problem alone won’t work.”

Mr Weeks pointed out that there had been three murders since he was appointed minister in April.

He also said that there were believed to be 200 hardcore gang members on the island, but up as many as 800 more who were on the periphery of gang activity.

“We clearly need to do something different and the question is: how far do we want to go? But we cannot allow the less than 1,000 gang members hold the community hostage. It has to stop.

“It seems that there is a disconnect in Bermuda — ‘as long as it is gang members killing each other then I don’t need to worry about it’.

“It’s not just in one neighbourhood, it’s not just back of town. Now our whole island has been touched by it. It is our community and we must take our community back.

“We have those who benefit from and protect the perpetrators, and others who are too afraid to speak up. This is our reality today in Bermuda., but it does not have to be our future.”

Darrin Simons, the Commissioner of Police, backed the minister’s call, saying: “There is no crime in Bermuda that this community cannot solve.”

Mr Simons pointed to the killing last month of Keith Gordon, who was found dead at his home in Hamilton.

He said that detectives initially thought the death was not suspicious.

He said: “We told you that, and within 24 hours you said, ‘No, no, no — you’ve got that wrong. There is something that’s happened there and actually this is the individual you should be looking at’.

“And some 48 hours later, we’ve moved from ‘there are no apparent suspicious circumstances’ to somebody in custody. That is the power of community, and that is the ability of the community to solve crime.”

Mr Weeks said that he was working with other government ministries in formulating a national strategic plan, which he hoped to unveil in September.

There have been six murders so far this year, including four shootings.

Last week Antoine Daniels, Assistant Commissioner of Police, said that there had been an alarming spike in knife crimes and it was not unusual for children to take blades to school.

“If kids can tell me, the Assistant Commissioner, that this is normal, it tells you a lot of the state of Bermuda today,” Mr Daniels told The Royal Gazette.

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Published July 20, 2022 at 10:09 am (Updated July 20, 2022 at 3:27 pm)

‘We must take our community back’ Weeks tells packed meeting on crime

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