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Community unites to remember victims of gun and gang violence

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“You are choosing to live in a dog-eat-dog world but you are not an animal — you deserve better than that”.

That was stark message delivered by Nicole Fox to all the boys, men, women and girls involved in gang and gun violence in Bermuda.

Ms Fox, whose son Ricco Furbert was gunned down and killed along with his close friend Haile Outerbridge in January, 2013, was speaking to The Royal Gazette at the Die-In event held at City Hall yesterday afternoon.

Around 300 people gathered in solidarity with the victims of gun and gang violence and their families while some lay on the ground to represent the 30 lives lost as a result since 2003.

Ms Fox said she wanted to send out a warning to anyone involved in gun or gang violence.

“It's just going to end in prison, institutions or death,” she said.

“There's no future in it. You are choosing to live in a dog-eat-dog world and you are not an animal — you deserve better than that.

“Have more respect for yourself — love yourself a little bit more.”

Family members of Bermuda's murdered men joined together with the community to remember the victims.

The names of the 30 dead were read out and each name was followed by one minute's silence as peace doves were release.

Asked about her son Ricco, Ms Fox said: “He was full of laughs . . . full of laughs! He was kind-hearted.

“He loved his family. Anyone he touched, he touched big time.

“I think it's about time the community came together and I think it's time that the government recognised that this is a very serious problem in Bermuda and we need to come together and rectify this. Our young men are suffering bad . . . bad. I think it needs to start in Primary schools — prevention is the cure.”

Shawnwette Easton also lost a loved one to gun violence — her cousin Michael Phillips who was murdered in 2012. She told The Royal Gazette: “It is really senseless and it is not even worth it. You just don't understand why — the majority of the time you see these children grow up together, they went school together, they are friends, so why? They didn't grow up like that. There is a lot of peer pressure.

“We were so weak after it happened. The family was so weak and wanted to know why because he wasn't in to anything — he was a family guy. The hardest part is knowing that we can't be 100 per cent to his daughters like he was. There are angry people out there now. I don't really think it is going to stop as there is a lot of retaliation. They will say, ‘because you killed my cousin I'm not going to be friends with you'. There are a lot of angry people out there. They can probably forgive but inside it really hurts.”

Remembering her cousin, Michael, who was a father to two daughters, Ms Easton added: “He was just so wonderful. He made sure all his cousins were taken care of. He was just a giving person. He had his ways but it wasn't through violence, he's a big miss. It's senseless.”

The “30/30” event was organised by members of the Mt Zion AME Church, along with other churches.

Deputy Mayor Donal Smith was first to take to the stand to deliver his message. He said: “Bermuda is in a crisis and an epidemic that we cannot afford to continue. Families and friends are losing their loved ones at an alarming rate. Our community has been plunged into a time of fear and despair. We need to join together and take back our neighbourhoods.

“We need to say something if we see something. We need, and you can underscore that, to embrace our young men and some of our young girls who are doing things unseemingly. We need to lead them back to a path of goodness. Today we make a change and start a movement; we make an impact and stand in solidarity in an endeavour to stop this plague of gang and gun violence in our community.”

Reverend Jahkimmo Smith of Mount Zion Church organised the event on the back of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US following the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Rev Smith said: “Obviously our problem is not with police brutality. Our problem here is that our sons are killing each other. The bulk of my service last Sunday focused on what was happening here in our own backyard.

“I thought this event would send a powerful message to show some solidarity.”

Asked if he had a message for anyone who might be involved in gang and gun violence, Rev Smith added: “I would say to them you are not our enemy you are our sons, you are our brothers, you are our fathers, you are our uncles, our cousins. We do not hate you we love you and your life matters.

“What upsets us is that you are so much more than what you have allowed yourself to become. As a community, we will not accept our sons killing our sons in our community. We will not accept as a norm for cynicism, for hatred, for violence. As a community we need to show solidarity.

“It's going to take a mammoth lift from the entire community to really make a difference. I believe that under the right conditions a spark can become a burning inferno. “My prayer is today is that this show of solidarity will spark a fire in the hearts of some and I think it will make a difference.”

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Published December 19, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 19, 2014 at 8:39 am)

Community unites to remember victims of gun and gang violence

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