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Community urged to support protesters

LaVerne Furbert

People’s Campaign activist LaVerne Furbert has called on the community to donate funds to support defendants issued with court summonses in relation to the protests on December 2.

Ms Furbert, who is an administrative assistant for the Bermuda Industrial Union, also urged the community to turn up to Magistrates’ Court on four dates to show support for those facing charges.

It is uncertain whether the call for the “December 2nd Legal Defence Fund” and support at the court during working hours is an official call from the Bermuda Industrial Union, from the People’s Campaign or elsewhere, although one of the contact phone numbers provided by Ms Furbert for those wishing to donate funds was that of the BIU’s headquarters.

Asked whether the call was union-related and to what entity or individual the fund was registered, Ms Furbert told The Royal Gazette: “I cannot answer any of your questions until I’ve sought legal opinion”.

Some 15 people received summonses to appear in court relating to a range of offences during protests outside of the House of Assembly against the Bermuda Government’s airport deal.

Posting on her Facebook page on Friday, Ms Furbert said she had already received donations, writing: “Almost everywhere I went today, people were stopping me to give donations for the ‘December 2nd Legal Defence Fund’.

“Some gave $10, others gave $200. It all adds up.

“We need all we can to fight the OBA Government. By the way, Bermudians will be paying twice. We will be paying for the defence lawyers and we will be paying for the prosecution team with our taxes.

“Remember, it is our taxes that pay for the judges, police and the DPP staff. Pay attention Bermudians!”

Ms Furbert also wrote that “we” are “requesting the presence of those who believe in equal rights and justice to assemble at Magistrates’ Court on the following dates at times to show support for our brothers and sisters who will be brought before the courts for exercising their democratic right of freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

The dates she listed were Wednesday, April 5 at 10am; Friday, April 7 at 10am; Monday, April 10 at 10am; and Wednesday, April 12 at 10am.

When calling for donations, Ms Furbert posted the phone number of the BIU and a cell number for calls out of hours.

Meanwhile, the Bermuda Police Service issued a press release highlighting that the BPS investigation into the protest was complete while reporting that 15 people had been summoned to court.

They outlined that there were “three separate issues” relating to the events of December 2: the independent peer review report prepared by a senior UK police officer; the BPS investigation into allegations of criminal conduct by some protesters; and the investigation into complaints by members of the public against police officers.

The police said that the use of pepper spray by officers on the day of the protests was subject to an investigation by the Police Complaints Authority which is yet to be released.