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Brannon’s ‘insensitive comments’ condemned

Remarks made by a well-known entertainer on social media were roundly condemned in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Kim Swan, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, was the first to speak out about the “very insensitive comments”, which came from musician Tony Brannon, who apologised online earlier.

Mr Swan explained: “Mr Brannon has referred to persons in the Government - in objection to the position the Government holds on immigration - as ‘you cockroaches need to open up immigration’.

“It has become a firestorm and one which is most concerning.”

The MP added: “Anyone in Bermuda, no matter what position they take, knows that immigration is one of the most racially emotive issues that comes up in our country.”

Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, told MPs that another comment posted by Mr Brannon included: “The cockroaches here wouldn’t even give you a PRC.”

He said: “When we refer to cockroaches, regardless of who you are, we get the spray and try to kill them because we don’t want them in our houses or even around our houses.

“This statement is a very serious racial statement against black people and to refer to a government as cockroaches, a Bermudian local entertainer, I take great offence to that and many others take great offence to that.” Mr Burgess pointed out: “I don’t think all white people are racist, I really don’t, but what I do ask them, those that are not, they need to come out and condemn these types of statements.”

Craig Cannonier, the leader of the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance, said that everyone in the House was concerned by the comments.

Leah Scott, the OBA’s deputy leader, said: “The offence is not only that he can make such a comment, but that we have supported him economically and he has benefited from, essentially, benefited from cockroaches.

“So our money has value, but we have no value.

“He cannot think that this is acceptable, I’m sure that he has been told about the backlash and I don’t think that there’s anything that he can say that will change his remarks.”

Ms Scott added: “He will never ever get another dime of mine.”

Mr Brannon posted on Facebook yesterday: “I apologise and meant no racially motivated slur by using the term cockroach, though I was aware it is a negative term and used it in that context.

“I was not aware that some consider it a racist remark, and would never have used the word had I known.

“Former police commissioner Jonathan D. Smith pointed this out to me after I made a social media post, which I deleted, about a popular restaurant being empty on Saturday night.”

On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Under fire: Tony Brannon (File photo)