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‘The country needs to be very concerned’

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The Island’s first double shooting murder sets a new low in the ongoing exchange of gun violence, community leaders last night agreed.

“There is a climate of fear, a lot of underlying tension in the community,” said Reverend Nick Dill, Anglican head for the parish of Pembroke.

“With the brazenness of this latest incident, it does seem like an escalation, but it’s also a group of young men who have gotten themselves into a situation that they can’t get out of. These guys feel like this is something that’s over their heads. There is a sense of inevitability.”

Rev Dill said he planned to hold a meeting with local clergy this afternoon to work out a response that would reassure people in the immediate neighbourhood of the shootings.

“We’ll walk through and knock on a few doors,” he said. “Next week, when we have our community meal at St Augustine’s Church, which is just around the corner from where this happened, we will [also] try to organise a low-key walk through the community and let the residents know they’re not in this alone. We need a show of solidarity but we also need to pull out the stops to try and deal with this.”

Condolences to the family were also offered by youth worker Carlton Simmons.

He added: “All is not lost. It’s not too late for us to engage with this problem. I would definitely say that the last two weeks represent an escalation. The Country needs to be very concerned.

“We have been seeing people killed in broad daylight, people getting killed in cars, shootings in businesses, and now a double homicide. It’s one thing to have a double homicide in the US but this is 22 square miles.”

The City of Hamilton Alderman said it was essential for the community to address the causes behind the cycle of violence, and foster as much dialogue as possible.

“I think we are seeing the effects spilling over into the community and families. Single mothers who have sons, if they haven’t already sent them away, are thinking of how to get their sons out of this Island. Mothers are trying to make sure that their daughters stay far from anybody who looks even remotely like they are involved in gangs. Fathers are sending their daughters away hoping they get married to somebody who isn’t from this Island. The consequences are entering all facets of family life. I would imagine white parents trying to figure out how to keep their white sons away from his black friends that might be controversial to say, but I want it to be.

“Your son does not have to be in a gang to be affected by this gang warfare. That’s why it needs to be addressed on a national level. Your son could be shot or killed by virtue of the fact that he knows someone in a particular community that’s what we have to fight to prevent otherwise it’s going to continue to branch out.

“This Country is heavily segregated by where you live and where you’re from. Warwick people are staying in Warwick, Paget people in Paget, town people in town, Somerset people in Somerset. It’s not conducive to living. Each time there is a shooting, the noose tightens because the amount of suspicion toward outsiders goes up.”

The Island can expect to see “more mistaken identity shootings” if the violence isn’t addressed, the founder of Youth on the Move added.

“I have asked the current Minister [of Public Safety] if I can assist in any way. I hope that this Government can take up the approach of dialogue, and look at this issue with some compassion as well as with a stern hand.”

Meanwhile, in a response indicative of the widespread anger in the community toward gun violence, a caller to The Royal Gazette said: “As a 44-year-old Bermudian man, I think it’s a disgrace that our police can’t get their hands on these people. The justice system is not setting an example. If you pick up a firearm and shoot somebody, you should never, ever come out of Westgate. When the justice system decides to put these guys away, they need to go away for life.”

Alderman Carlton Simmons
Reverend Nick Dill

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Published January 25, 2013 at 9:17 am (Updated January 25, 2013 at 9:16 am)

‘The country needs to be very concerned’

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