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Fubler reflects 40 years after riots

The 40th anniversary of the 1977 riots is a chance to remind the country of values that have since sustained Bermuda, activist Glenn Fubler said yesterday.

Saturday marks four decades since the hangings of Erskine “Buck” Burrows and Larry Tacklyn sparked a wave of riots.

Mr Fubler said: “It was the tragic conclusion to a most destructive chapter of Bermuda's history.”

He added: “People said that Bermuda was going right under, but since then there has been no major violence.”

Mr Fubler, in conjunction with various agencies across the island, called for people to “reflect on the theme ‘every life is precious' as we look towards a better Bermuda emerging in the 21st century”.

Mr Fubler said at a ceremony at City Hall yesterday: “While there was tragedy four decades ago, it is evident that efforts from all sectors of our society successfully transformed that legacy over the interim period. Since that weekend in 1977, there have been no riots.”

He pointed out that Bermuda experienced its largest non-violent protests of the 20th century with the labour demonstrations of 1981, just 3½ years after rioting and arson rocked the country.

Mr Fubler said: “In the turmoil of 1977, polarisation between the police and people in the streets was palpable.

“But by 1981 there were high levels of collaboration across those traditional divides, hence that peaceful resolution.”

Mr Fubler said memories of 1977 “will bring some pain”.

He explained that consideration of the sanctity of life could help the island “address the cycle of gun violence, the epidemic of deaths on the roads and the growing social divide”.

Acting Premier Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch commended the City Hall gathering, which included the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Road Safety Council and Mothers on a Mission and spoke about the significance of 1977.

Colonel Burch said: “This was a very tumultuous, dark and unsettled time in our country, where lives were lost. Today provides us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our legacy, our history and what steps we have taken to progress.”

Colonel Burch added: “On a day when we embrace our past, I encourage you to also embrace the possibilities of our present and our future.”

Buck Burrows and Larry Tacklyn were hanged on December 2, 1977.

Racial unrest and social tensions exploded in the wake of the controversial decision to hang the two men and riots swept the country.

Buck Burrows was earlier convicted of murdering Police Commissioner George Duckett in 1972.

He was also convicted of the 1973 murders of Sir Richard Sharples, the Governor, along with Captain Hugh Sayers, his 25-year-old aide-de-camp.

Larry Tacklyn was acquitted of the Government House murders, but both men were convicted of the Shopping Centre murders of Victor Rego and Mark Doe in 1973.

Mr Fubler said a “reflective dialogue” will be held at the Bermuda National Gallery at City Hall, on Saturday, December 2 from 2pm to 3.40pm, on the theme of “every life is precious”.

He added: “Any time over the weekend of December 2, please be invited to reflect on how, over the festive season, we can give ourselves the gift of having quiet time, time out from the business, for true recreation.”

Mr Fubler, in conjunction with the Road Safety Council, added that, as the island suffered its fifteenth roads death of the year, drivers should tomorrow “pause and reflect for 20 seconds both before and after their journey”.

He added motorists and riders could show their support by driving with their lights on.

Civil unrest: a car burns on Court Street during the riots in 1977

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Published November 30, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 30, 2017 at 9:47 am)

Fubler reflects 40 years after riots

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