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Thursday, December 06, 2007

It is time to take our community back

Recently the City of Hamilton (Bermuda) saw the staging of a public demonstration and rally which was organized by the parents of the murder victims, who are yet to see the perpetrators of their children’s murders be brought to justice. While speaking to member of the community, I discovered that most of them are confident that there are members of the community with sound and relevant information, which may lead to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of these senseless murders.

It was also brought to my attention, that the individuals who have pertinent information, that could be of evidential value and which may ensure the victim’s families gain the closure they are looking for, are afraid of retaliation. Daily these families are made to relive the horrific and traumatizing experiences and they will do so until justice is done.

Fear is never a justified reason to cause or aid in the miscarriage of justice. Every one that resides in this tranquil community needs to be courageous. We must not only remember, but we must also remind each other of our civic responsibilities which should be perform with a sense of pride. It is also important for everyone who resides in Bermuda to understand that courage is not the absence of fear but it is the willingness to act even when you are afraid. If we use fear to allow an offender to evade prosecution whether it is for the offence of murder or for an offence of a less serious nature, we are only empowering the criminals. We are giving them permission to up the ante and to raise the stakes.

If you think what you are experiencing now is fear, you will mess yourself if this problem is allowed to get out of control, as it has in some countries. I have been to countries and I have spoken to people, where the community has empowered the criminals in the name of fear. Today these criminal commit murders in plain view of members of the public, with no effort to conceal their identity; yet they have the assurance, that no one who witnessed the gruesome murders has the courage to aid in their arrest and/or conviction.

All in all, Bermuda is a still a very safe community, which has not been blighted with the amount and the degree of criminal activities that is synonymous with many other jurisdictions. Yet I can see the potential for things to get out of control. It will be a shame if the citizens and residents of this tiny island are made to live in a petrified state.

Now I am lead to ask the following questions. Is it fear or is it indifference that has taking over the members of the community? Could it be that the community no longer cares and we have stop being his brother’s keeper? Have we adopted the “it’s not my business” mentality? For the sake of this little island, I hope not.

In service to Humanity

Allan H. F. Palmer


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  2. Rosina I have known Allan for quiet some time now and can confirm that he will reach the goals he has set for himself and his community(wherever that maybe) With God at his side all of his life he is destined to be the role model that is urgently required for our males throughout our region. Being afraid is not the issue as that is a natural emotion, however it's not doing anything after that fear sets in that cripples us and prevents us from saving our communities!! Rosina Valasse(Barbados)

  3. As I read and reflected on this eloquent, well-written, thought provoking commentary, several thoughts came to mind.

    First, I applaud Allan for his forthright candor in bringing this important, timel discussion to light. It's great to have an opportunity to delve into this subject matter and generate honest dialogue, which I hope will result in solution oriented action.

    Second, the definition of fear was profound. I had never heard it put in those terms before.

    I would like to remind anyone who is fearful about a famous quote which says that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Whether it be real, perceived or legitimate fear, we must move beyond it in all itsa forms and unite. As the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) Motto states, "united to stand - divied we fall."

    Third, a question was raised as to whther or not we are fearful or have adopted a he's not my brother mentality. I'd like to offer another theory and that is the MYOB/it's not in my backyard mentality. People turn a blind eye to miscarriges of justices. They'd rather pretend they don't know or didn't see anything, especially if it doesn't affect them. They fail to realize that we live in too close of a society. Truly whatever affects Brother A will eventually affect Sister B. Someone is rrelated to Brother A's sister and/or is a friend of Brother A.

    My solution is for us to unite aganist the grave miscarriages of justice that plague and permeate our society. If one person singlehandedly changed the world, imagine what an array can do. Let's use our powerful voices and make a difference for our ourselves, our children, and our children's children. We can and we must do it. Ready! Set! Let's go!

  4. Well said! All of us must be "our brothers' keepers" and work together to take back our communities. While it is impossible to relive the past, it is possible to move towards a healthier future. A future where we don't barricade our children in our homes for fear that someone will snatch them up or kill them. A future where the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" allows all of us the protection of a community of love surrounding our families. A future where we can speak up regarding violent behaviour and those who perpetrate the violence, trusting that an entire community will not turn a blind eye.

    It only takes one committed person to be a change agent. Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution?????

  5. SAM - Reading this article reminds me of the everyday situations in my country (Jamaica)where violence is dominant in some of the garrison communities. It is just like another episode in the on-going saga of people being killed and members of the communities are afraid to speak up because of FEAR for their lives. In light of what happened in Bermuda, the situation needs to be clipped right at the source. As Mr Palmer is stated, people needs to be more caring and be also their "brothers keepers" and help out the proper authorities in solving these cases. When the victimizers realize that the people are willing to speak up, then they will think twice about committing crimes. The people must be reminded that no man is "untouchable" God is the ruler over all and He sees all. Mr Palmer has opened the eyes of the people with this article and they must realize that there is no way the police can help bring justice to these families unless SOMEONE SPEAKS UP.

  6. Hi Allan, I applaud your dedication to this cause. I ask what suggestions you have to encourage people to come forward with information. A witness protection program has been suggested by the DPP but that will entail Bermudians leaving the country and which may not favor many. One suggestion I had was amending the judicial system whereas people who are considered protected could have their statements read in or give evidence through a closed area and have their voices disguised. But since we are under the English system which is geared to protect the defendant, this procedure may not even be considered. It will take a lot to persuade Bermudians and others across the world to come forward and give information. Have you heard that rap song about 'snitching', it pretty much discourages people (particularly the youth) from providing information to the police. These are the influencers of our youth and they will have to be targeted to start making a change.

  7. RE (K-F) ----------------

    A witness protection program is a program that accredits victory to the criminal community. In that the Community secures a conviction of an individual but at what expense. This is accomplished at the expense of the freedom of main prosecution witnesses. They are placed in a position where they will not be able to see and interact with their friends and families in an environment they have grown to love. This in itself is a punishment; this program can be considered a self/community imposed life sentence.

    What message does the witness protection program sends to the criminal elements that exist in our community? If you are willing to live up to your civic responsibility, you must run away or pay with your life.

    The solution to this problem can be found in empowering the community. When we empower the positive elements of the community we strip the criminals of the strangle hold they now have on our society. This can and will only be accomplished with the change of attitudes, which will aid us in casting off the fear that now holds us captives.

    We must adopt an attitude of let justice be done regardless of who the offenders are, their social, financial and or political status.

    The legislature must enact laws that prescribe punishment that matches the degree crimes committed.

    Presiding magistrates and judges needs to grow, develop or purchase balls that will give them the GUTS to deal with the offenders in such a manner that their punishment acts as a deterrent to the convicted person or anyone who entertains thought of commit similar offences.

    Allan H.f Palmer

  8. Well the big problem with people coming forward to the police is confidentiality - and like you mentioned no protection! As a small community some see it safer to be quiet than to speak up! If they speak up they may be the next one in a body bag!
    Witness protection plans would work, which I am sure have been explored by the Bermuda police, however - not sure if they have been used though! On a few occassions the police have have the suspect in custody, and then due to not enough evidence they have been let off! What else can be done!

  9. allan i applaud u for taking this brave step,bringing to all these information..even here in antigua,crimes have been taking over our commmunity and we are not getting an results from the authorities..we r scared for our lives,right now we have a serial rapist walking around,and no one seem to know who he is,he even spend the night with one of his victims...and we have to wonder will we ever be safe....but i thank god for his protection and his love and i pray that one day we will as a community will stand together and take back what is rightfully ours...(antigua)