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Justice march attracts hundreds of people

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Hundreds gathered this afternoon for a civil rights march through Hamilton.

The event started Barr's Bay Park and was organised by Social Justice Bermuda in support of the global Black Lives Matter movement.

Kristin White, who organised the demonstration with Katura Horton-Perinchief, said: “We march in solidarity with the global movement.

“We call for justice for our black brothers and sisters. But there are issues here in Bermuda that we need to take action on.

“We as black people are dealing with the vestiges of being owned — we are descendants of enslaved people.

“There are issues of racism which are systemic. It's in the air. The point is for us to say, this is what we know to be true.

Ms White asked: “We're in a majority black country with a black Government — what are the steps we need to be taking to use our resources to empower our people?”

Riketa Pavy, 28, one of the marchers, talked about her experiences of racism and led people in a chant of “black lives matter”.

Ms Pavy said afterwards: “Honestly, I just had the urge, with the Black Lives Matter movement, to speak out and share my story and the things I have gone through.

“We have come a long way but still we have a way to go. I am pushing for equality.”

Antonio Belvedere, of the charity Safe Space Bermuda, asked the marchers to speak the name of Chavelle Dillon-Burgess before it left the park at 4.30pm.

Friends and family of Ms Dillon-Burgess, the mother of a toddler, have not heard from her since April 11.

She was reported missing by her mother on April 30, about two weeks before her 27th birthday.

Mr Belvedere told the crowd: “She matters.”

Juanae Crockwell said that the “root” of white supremacy and systemic racism had to be dealt with.

She added: “When we tackle the root, we fix everything.”

Ms Crockwell said the group was focused on criminal justice, educational reform, healthcare form and economic equality.

Mwalimu Melodye Micere Van Putten, the same activist who spoke at the Black Lives Matter demonstration last Sunday, opened the march with a libation ceremony.

The march heard historical lectures at three sites, with the “We Arrive” statue at the park the first.

The monument is a tribute to enslaved people aboard an American ship, the Enterprize, which was forced to dock at Barr's Bay in 1835 for repairs after it was hit by bad weather.

Slavery had been abolished by Britain and Bermuda's courts ruled that the people imprisoned on the ship should be freed and allowed to stay in Bermuda if they wanted to.

Glenn Fubler, a community worker, talked the crowd from the statue to mark the 1959 Theatre Boycott, at the corner of Church and Wesley Street, and told marchers to “recognise the hero within”.

Mr Fubler, of Imagine Bermuda, said the block where City Hall stood should be named “Freedom Square” to commemorate the successful stand against racial segregation on the island.

Maxine Esdaille of the Africa Diaspora Heritage Trail spoke on the grounds of the Cabinet Building on Front Street at the statue of Sally Bassett, an enslaved woman burnt at the stake in 1730 after she was accused of a plot to poison slaveholders.

Ms Esdaille said; “Here we are today, 290 years later — still struggling to be free.”

Latoya Bridgewater, a yoga instructor, ended the march on its return to Barr's Bay Park with a meditation session.

Ms White told the hundreds gathered that Social Justice Bermuda was formed on May 31, sparked in part by the death of lifelong civil rights activist and author Eva Hodgson.

She said it was appropriate to end the march on the same ground where the liberty of enslaved people on board the Enterprize was restored.

Ms White added: “Maybe today we are taking steps towards a freedom of our own.”

Kristin White of Social Justice Bermuda as a march in support of Black Lives Matter prepares to move off from Barr's Bay Park in Hamilton (Photograph Jonathan Bell)
Marchers in support of the global Black Lives Matter movement make their way along Hamilton's Church Street (Photograph Jonathan Bell)
A Black Lives Matter march pauses for a speech at the statue erected to commemorate the 1959 Theatre Boycott, which ended segregation in Bermuda (Photograph Jonathan Bell)
Marchers listen to a speech at the 'When Voices Rise' statue on Church Street, created to mark the 1959 Theatre Boycott that ended segregation (Photograph Akil Simmons)

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Published June 13, 2020 at 5:21 pm (Updated June 14, 2020 at 1:00 pm)

Justice march attracts hundreds of people

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