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Floyd killing sparks surge of interest in Curb

The death of an unarmed black man at the hands of American police officers has sparked a surge of interest in an island antiracism group, its president said yesterday.

Lynne Winfield, the chairwoman of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, said the organisation had received a flood of calls and e-mails from black and white Bermudians since George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.

She added: “Usually, we get one or two members join us on Facebook every week. We have had dozens join us over the last week.

“We have received e-mails and we are now getting posts on our Facebook page from white people saying what their journey has been like to beginning to understand the issues around racism.”

Ms Winfield backed a Black Lives Matter march organised by Jasmine Brangman and Dynera Bean, to be held on Sunday in Hamilton at noon, and events created by grassroots organisation Social Justice Bermuda, to be held on Wednesday.

She said: “When we first heard of these events we were like where have these people come from? But it is very exciting to see this happening at the grassroots level.”

Ms Winfield predicted that the momentum would continue.

She said the people who had signed up to join the marches empathised with the Black Lives Matter movement overseas, but had also put things into a Bermuda context.

Ms Winfield added: “We are hoping there is true transformative change.”

She was pleased to see more white people support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ms Winfield added: “Now they are in a place where they will publicly make a statement about where their feelings are.”

She said that many people on both sides of the racial divide on the island had sympathy for Curb, but were deterred by “a culture of fear and a culture of silence in Bermuda”.

Ms Winfield added that incidents such as the death of Mr Floyd took black people back to historical aggression as well as to discrimination they had suffered themselves.

She said: “That is the outpouring that you are seeing in the black community. It is a visceral response to George Floyd's murder. It is also generating among the white community a sense of horror that this is playing out.”

She believes hundreds of people will turn up to Sunday's march.

Ms Winfield hopes discussions about Mr Floyd's death and police brutality will lead to improvements in Bermuda.

She said: “We are anticipating that we will get more people reaching out for our truth and reconciliation conversation meetings.”

Ms Winfield said, although Mr Floyd died in Minnesota, the problems the incident had highlighted were relevant in Bermuda.

She added that larger numbers of black police officers did not stop police brutality directed towards black people.

Ms Winfield said: “On Facebook there are multiple instances of black policemen hurting black people.

“That ties into racial oppression. When we look at our gang violence, there is rage there and depression and loss of hope.

“They are angry, so they kill people that look like themselves. We have to understand that there is pain in this community and it is not necessarily historical.”

For more information, visit Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda on Facebook or see uprootingracism.org

Lynne Winfield (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published June 05, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 05, 2020 at 8:04 am)

Floyd killing sparks surge of interest in Curb

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