Dunkley: The gangster lifestyle is a dead-end street
Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley has warned that until Bermudians decide to break their silence it’s just a matter of time before the impact of gun violence hits close to home for everyone.
Commenting on the latest case of a 19-year-old who was shot in broad daylight outside of a church on Sunday, the Minister and Deputy Premier was relieved to hear this latest shooting did not result in serious injury. But he said now is not the time to be for residents to be “lulled into a false sense of security”.
“Anytime you get a message like this you continue to be disturbed by it especially when things like this don’t happen for a while. But we still have the underlying challenges that we have to deal with.
“I wasn’t pleased to hear about it but I’m pleased to see that the injuries really weren’t serious.”
The Pembroke teenager sustained superficial leg injuries on St Augustine Hill at around 12.45pm when multiple gunshots were fired by suspects believed to be on a motorcycle. He was treated at the hospital’s Emergency Ward and later released.
It happened just days after the Minister announced a media blitz campaign that starts next month and gun bounty rewards by CrimeStoppers Bermuda.
The goal, he said, will be to change the mindset on the prevailing silence surrounding gun violence in Bermuda.
“If we continue to turn a blind eye to our families and friends doing things it’s going to end up on our doorstep. At that point it’s a little too late to think you’re going to get action quickly,” said Mr Dunkley.
“To say ‘my little Johnny’s a good kid, he got mixed up with some people and we need to get him out of the Island’, that’s putting a Band-Aid on the huge wound that we have. People know if little Johnny is hanging around the wrong people and he’s bringing stuff home and you don’t know how he got they should ask questions.”
He concurred with Bishop-elect Nick Dill, who said the incident was a blow to efforts to get the community to reclaim the area after the recent double murder of Ricco Furbert and Haile Outerbridge. The two men were gunned down in Belvin’s Variety only a short distance away on January 23.
“We started this year with a tragic double shooting in Happy Valley but since then there has been a general sense of ease over the past couple of months which was broken up by this incident on Sunday.
“I’m very disappointed because it means another family has been impacted by gun violence, it means another mother and another family is very scared by what’s going to happen after this. I try to reach out to all of them because it’s important that they know that their leaders care, I want to be able to listen to them and I want to be able to help them in any way that I can.
“This is a cancer we have and as we know all cancers start very quietly and unless we arrest this one quickly it could get to stage four. I’m not going to allow that to happen,” he said.
“If we get just one gun off the streets that’s a positive impact and I believe that people are ready to make a change and start to open up a little bit more. If they’re not tired of it yet they should be.”
He spoke of countless individuals who have come to the Ministry to say that they are scared and how they don’t want to go out at night because of what’s going on.
“These are men and women who are not involved in that type of gangster lifestyle. The gangster lifestyle is a dead-end street so get off it before you go too far down that road.
“If you don’t turn around, if you don’t want to get educated because without an education you can’t get a job, if you don’t want to get your GED, if you don’t want to start applying for jobs in an appropriate way you’re going to end up on that dead-end street.
“Once you end up in prison you’re going to serve your time and it’s going to be more and more difficult for you to turn yourself around.”
He pledged that his Ministry in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Chambers will implement changes to the parole legislation. The days of serving one third of prison sentences for serious crimes will be short-lived; murder, attempted murder, rape and gun related crime tops the list.
Said Mr Dunkley: “We’re going to take a look at changing that because the community is asking for it and we have heard it loud and clear. And the Parole Board also knows how serious this Government is about looking at cases that involve gun crime linked to the gangster lifestyle, and its about time.”
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