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The Bermuda Stop List

What is shocking about the fact that Boulevard Football Club forfeited its match against Somerset Trojans after two of its players were given what amounted to death threats if they crossed Somerset Bridge is that no one was very shocked by the news.

That’s a sign of how deeply gang violence and gang culture has permeated Bermuda society. And the suggestion that perhaps Boulevard, which has tended to be at the centre of most gang-related threats this year, should suspend the rest of their season because of their inability to travel to away games, has also been met with relative indifference.

All of this is an indictment on the depths that Bermuda has reached as community. The fact that it is too dangerous for people to travel ten miles away from their homes is pitiful. For all the complaints that are made against the US Stop List, this is worse. Never mind not being able to travel to the US. There are young men and women who cannot travel from Hamilton to Somerset or from the west past the Paget lights. This is Bermuda’s home-grown Stop List.

Now Premier Paula Cox has tasked three Ministers with the job of coming up with ways to solve this problem. That’s welcome news, even if it is long overdue.

Of course, those, including the Bermuda Football Association, who have stated that this is a societal problem are right. But football has a role to play in that it is a galvanising force in bringing people together, and it can also be used as an incentive to young men to turn their backs on gangs and take part in mainstream society. The alternative is to lose the chance to do something they love.

Countries who have experienced problems with violence in football have been able to reduce the problem by holding the clubs and football accountable. Teams have been forced to play home games in front of empty stands, thus depriving them of revenue, and the police and football associations have worked together to ban well-known troublemakers.

This is not necessarily an exact solution for Bermuda, because the problems confronting teams like Somerset and Boulevard are not confined to football. Instead, it has been gangs invading football that have caused the problem. But it is vital that football plays its part. In the meantime, the broader problem remains. Public Safety Minister Wayne Perinchief has laid out some plans for combating gang violence, many of which are sensible and could be effective. They need to be implemented, and quickly.

This newspaper continues to urge Government to adopt the Ceasefire programme and to do so quickly. It also supports anti-gang legislation as a means of isolating the problem. But there’s no time to waste. Bermuda needs to act before gangs become so embedded on society that they cannot be removed.

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Published February 10, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 10, 2012 at 7:15 am)

The Bermuda Stop List

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