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Curb stands behind Tweed over work permit

Anti-racism group Curb has expressed concerns over the handling of the work permit of the Reverend Nicholas Tweed.

Mr Tweed, pastor at the St Paul AME Church and a leader of the activist group the People’s Campaign, reportedly had his work permit renewal denied, with both the church and the government accusing each other of “bullying tactics”.

In a statement, a spokeswoman said that Curb’s Central Council noted the history of using immigration for political gain and Mr Tweed’s familial ties to the island.

“Mr Tweed is uniquely qualified for the position, not only from a spiritual and leadership perspective, but also from a cultural and social perspective,” the statement said. “His family ties go back many generations and his daughter lives in Bermuda.

“Much has already been written about his father, Reverend Kingsley Tweed, whose courageous social justice work prior to desegregation and his outspoken advocacy during the Bermuda Theatre Boycott in 1959, drew fierce criticism including death threats. Unable to find employment and fearful for his life he was forced to leave Bermuda as a political and economic refugee.

“Curb has previously published research papers on the racialised immigration laws and policies that held sway in Bermuda until contemporary times. Victimisation of those who stood for social justice against the views of the establishment was commonplace, and both Methodist and AME ministers were victims of that wrath.”

The statement compared Mr Tweed to Martin Luther King, calling him a “vocal leader defending the rights of the underprivileged, the worker and the disenfranchised and sidelined in modern Bermuda”.

“For many Bermudians the actions taken against Mr Tweed are all too familiar with past acts of victimisation and current-day economic intimidation, and are seen as an attempt to silence him and his work in the community,” the statement continued.

“What is perhaps bittersweet, is that if it was not for Bermuda’s past racialised immigration policies, Mr Tweed might today have been viewed as a Bermudian, and would have qualified under ‘Right of Blood’ to have Bermudian status.

“Curb stands with Mr Tweed and asks the government to consider the appeal to renew Mr Tweed’s work permit with sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of the community, especially the wishes of St Paul’s AME congregation and the wider AME community.”

The Reverend Nicholas Tweed's prayer vigil at St Paul AME Church (Photograph by Akil Simmons)