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Corbishley ‘appalled, saddened’ by Floyd killing

Bermuda's Commissioner of Police said he was “appalled and saddened” by the killing of a black man by a police officer in the United States.

Stephen Corbishley posted the “from the heart” message on Facebook during the weekend about the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin last Monday.

He said: “I cannot imagine the heartache of George's family and while I have met many many families who have lost loved ones, to lose someone at the hands of the police, who should be there to support and protect, is truly devastating.

“I can understand the protests now taking place across the United States and while I do not condone the associated violence I can understand it.

“Black communities are angry.”

Mr Corbishley said the killing of Mr Floyd “resonates within black communities across the world, including Bermuda”.

He added: “Black lives do matter and I am committed to that as the police commissioner.

“Yes, I am a white guy; however, my mum taught me to love my neighbour, and that is one of my core values.”

The issue was raised by protesters in Bermuda who demonstrated yesterday against the appointment of Lee Rizzuto Jr as US Consul General.

Mr Rizzuto made headlines in America four years ago after he shared “conspiracy theories and unfounded attacks” about Donald Trump's political opponents on Twitter.

Protesters, who gathered at the US Consulate on Middle Road, used the hashtag #icantbreathebda, a slogan relating to the words used by Mr Floyd as he lay on the floor with Mr Chauvin's knee on his neck.

Mr Corbishley said the BPS would back a march in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

He said: “Additionally, I will march alongside my fellow man and woman to support them and seek to build even more trust in the BPS.”

Mr Corbishley said that his commitment to serve Bermuda and its communities had meant “a lot of changes to the BPS and more to come”.

He added: “Whether it be community policing as the most important part of our business to, without regret, having to deal with a small minority of the BPS through arrest, court appearances and dismissal.

“I also don't say a small minority to suggest it's not a big issue to address, the bottom line is one bad cop and their deeds can destroy a reputation, cause harm to victims and they have no place in the police service.”

Mr Corbishley said that he had grown up in a multicultural community in Manchester, England.

He said: “I saw racism first hand and hated it, even though I didn't suffer it. I saw riots in Moss Side, literally, after acts of police brutality towards black communities elsewhere in the UK.

“As a kid I was bullied because I had black friends but it was nothing compared to what my mates suffered. I was also brought up in a Christian family where loving thy neighbour was lived by.”

Mr Corbishley said that he often heard from fellow police officers that they treated all people the same.

However, he said that they comment “misses the point”.

Mr Corbishley explained: “You are not seeing the person, their needs, their culture, their ethnicity, their self.”

He said that the BPS must look after all community members — but also to “recognise that for some, enabling trust is a challenge because of history and how some have been wrongly treated”.

Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published June 02, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 02, 2020 at 9:03 am)

Corbishley ‘appalled, saddened’ by Floyd killing

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