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MPs debate gang violence

Jeffrey Baron, the Shadow Minister of National Security, has urged the Government to take a targeted approach to gang violence.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, Mr Baron said that the solution entailed “community engagement” and “focused deterrence”.

“We have about 65,000 people in Bermuda,” Mr Baron said. “Police say there are a maximum of 30 persons committed and ready as active shooters for gangs in Bermuda. That represents 0.0461 per cent of Bermuda — we are essentially being terrorised by 0.0461 per cent of our population.”

Mr Baron added that the fight against gang violence needed to be “intelligence-led” and should “surgically” target that 0.04 per cent.

He said counter-gang strategy Operation Ceasefire was selected under the last One Bermuda Alliance administration because of its specific focus on the root causes.

Mr Baron said there was a “need for the community to go beyond fear” in order to tackle the problem, and pledged continued commitment to combating the scourge of gang and gun violence.

He listed statistics relating to young black men who were losing their lives.

But verbal blows were exchanged when Progressive Labour Party backbencher Christopher Famous rose at the end of Mr Baron's speech.

“He said he doesn't shy away from difficult conversations,” Mr Famous said.

“During the last four and a half years there was no difficult conversation about race”.

Mr Baron raised a point of order to highlight two interviews he had on the subject.

Mr Famous countered that the interviews did not constitute a conversation. Mr Baron went on to call Mr Famous a “rookie”.

Craig Cannonier, the Shadow Works Minister, described gang violence as “a battle for all of Bermuda”.

“It is depressing to hear about young people losing their lives,” Mr Cannonier said.

“We are dying as a people, literally. We have got to find a way collectively to address these issues.

“Government after government will find it difficult because the tax base is getting less and less and less. The birth rate is far too low.”

He made reference to the President of the United States building walls and said that Bermuda needed to be breaking down walls.

PLP backbencher Michael Scott said he hoped Mr Baron took the opportunity to speak with business people and leaders “who import goods into this country which are often on vessels or with employees on those vessels who are bringing in drugs and guns”.

And he said he hoped Mr Baron asked them how they were tackling the problem “with your containers and your employees because death is happening on the streets of this island”.

Mr Scott added that “the police policy has completely stopped on interdiction”.

He said: “I don't know why we are pretending. It's just going on. And it's leading to this free for all that gangs carry on — they enforce their rivalries in any way possible that they think best, including killing people. This must stop.”

House of Assembly (File photograph)

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Published November 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm (Updated November 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm)

MPs debate gang violence

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