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Being robbed blind by acts of savagery

When we said last Friday that incidents the like of which resulted in the death of Shijuan Mungal last year could happen every day in Bermuda, it was not done to apportion blame to the slain teenager. Nor was it done to take a pop at our young people in general, the majority of whom do us proud. It was done to highlight the state of a society where violence has become an acceptable form of negotiation.

Our society, where those between the ages 16 and 35 make up a significant number, is reliant on that demographic to safeguard our future; not to condemn the Island to a primitive, fourth-world status, knocking more than 300 years off the clock.

But the events of the weekend past have shown us at close to our worst: savagery on the cricket field bookended by a pair of armed robberies.

What next? And, then, should we be surprised? It is to be hoped that the Bermuda Police Service can find a speedy resolution to the robberies at the MoneyShop in Warwick and at Maximart in Sandys. Whether they do or not, the unconvinced, or selfish, among us finally need to accept that an island-wide ban on dark-tinted helmets, and those that prevent identification, should become a priority for our legislators.

With no end in sight to the criminality, it will take only one brave soul at a shopping centre or bank counter to test the determination of those who would wantonly spread evil throughout our community for tragedy to revisit like a recurring nightmare.

It is not right that the evil among us get to fit in like normal citizens because the normal citizens cannot see the potentially harmful effect of keeping these helmets on our streets. Cracking down on them would be an irritation for some and potentially complicated to execute into law, but the evil should be isolated. If not, they should be made uncomfortable by having to seek alternative, faceless ways to go about their crimes.

“Enough is enough” has to be the cry. It is for this reason, supported by independent polls that show three out of every four residents want them banned, that The Royal Gazette is redoubling its efforts to get lawmakers to take this issue far more seriously than four years ago when Wayne Perinchief, then the Minister of National Security, was dismissed and told effectively to go into the dunce's corner by his Progressive Labour Party colleagues. Since which, the One Bermuda Alliance, through transport minister Shawn Crockwell, has treated the matter with similar disdain.

So what? Shall we wait until someone dies?

The same question could easily be asked of the authorities in cricket.

The county season in Bermuda did not start in earnest until July 18 with the first round of the Eastern Counties — and ended on Saturday with the Champion of Champions final. How fitting, the harbinger of doom might ask, that both poured copious doses of embarrassment on everyone associated with cricket on this island.

That the skirmish revolved around only two people is irrelevant; this has been in the making for cricket since the high-speed chase that ended with a bullet-riddled car carrying Willow Cuts cricketers crashing on a Southampton roadside about this time last year.

Weeks later, the national team embarked on the “Tour from Hell 2” to Malaysia, where Bermuda's international cricket reputation took a significant hit, even before we were relegated to Division Four of the World Cricket League. Allan Douglas left on that tour as a Bermuda Cricket Board vice-president, and stand-in national coach, and came back banished from the game at the board level.

Then came the start of the 2015 domestic season. Within weeks, the board included in the national team a player who was the subject of a police operation and who was then charged and found guilty of heroin possession. He was even taken on a pre-tournament tour before common sense prevailed and he was excluded from the squad for the ICC Americas Twenty20 Championship in Indianapolis.

The same common sense, or sense of moral duty, went Awol in the St George's Cup Match selection meeting, as the same player was then put in Bermuda's version of the goldfish bowl to play in the annual classic — that he failed in both innings and had a nightmare in the field was a sort of Pyrrhic victory for justice.

On to the Eastern Counties first round, where Cleveland, after taking 33 years to win the trophy, made themselves the enemy of every neutral with a show of such outrageously poor sportsmanship that even now it is a wonder how they ended up being reinstated after first being stripped. If walking off the field and delaying the match by 40 minutes was not enough, they had at least one player threaten an umpire, who has since withdrawn his services.

Then came Cup Match, which was reduced to hit-and-giggle cricket by the paucity of the St George's challenge, but at least there were no controversies.

Still, with the brand of senior cricketer we witness at present, trouble is hardly ever far away. And we had to wait only a few weeks on the day of the Eastern Counties final. That match went off smoothly, if painful on the eye, but elsewhere at least one cricketer left the field at Southampton Oval to engage in a brawl. Why? Someone ripped a player's chain off his neck. The umpires rightly called pulled stumps. Where was the BCB while all this was going on? Somewhere playing the role of ostrich — with its head buried deep in the sand. For there has been no disciplinary action and the offending team, Willow Cuts, were free to move on and take their place in the Champion of Champions.

So, with two of the Island's most controversial teams sharing the field for a big final, is there any wonder that Saturday happened?

This time, and with a very visible police presence, the repercussions are too serious for the board not to act and, by Friday, Jason Anderson, of Cleveland, and George O'Brien, a Willow Cuts guest player, can expect bans from the game of indeterminate length.

These are two former Bermuda players, but more recently they were Cup Match team-mates in that quite dysfunctional St George's outfit.

The video evidence, which has unfortunately become a YouTube sensation, is rather damning and gives us the closest parallel to what might have happened on Ord Road on September 8 last year, when Kiahna Trott-Edwards swung a baseball bat and made contact with Shijuan Mungal.

At St David's County Cricket Club, a bat was also swung, and by someone substantially bigger than Trott-Edwards. The difference between that and the recently completed murder trial was that no contact was made here, but that makes the act no less inexcusable.

Bats being swung and cricketers rolling on the pitch — you might think, “Isn't that supposed to happen in that sport?”

Yes, but not bats being swung with the intention of maiming a fellow player, nor the practice of WWF being played out in the middle.

Add to that a kick being fired to the head, leaving an innocent with suspected concussion, and we have cricket as a sport of thugs, not the sport that is meant to build character.

After the raging Cleveland president, clearly cognisant of yet another public relations disaster, ordered Anderson off the pitch, a police Land Rover arrived to give the scene a surreal, wartime look.

That it departed with the same passengers that it came with, and that Southside Police Station does not have two new guests awaiting mention in front of a magistrate this morning, was surprising.

For what happened there is little different to what happened on Ord Road: difference of opinion, heated words exchanged, altercation with a hard, wooden object as weapon of choice.

The one sliver of light is that both live to fight another day.

No end to criminality: it is to be hoped that the Bermuda Police Service can find a speedy resolution to the robberies at the MoneyShop in Warwick and at Maximart in Sandys. The robberies, and damning weekend events on the cricket field, have shown us at close to our worst

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Published September 14, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated September 14, 2015 at 2:43 am)

Being robbed blind by acts of savagery

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