FRIDAY, JUNE 1: The introduction of new police powers to prevent thugs from terrorizing neighbourhoods is ‘putting the cart before the horse’.
The warning comes from Pastor Leroy Bean who says ‘suppression tactics’ should be a last resort and more emphasis should be put into restoring the damaged communities. Pastor Bean, who heads up the gang intervention group CARTEL, says new laws targeting troublemakers in areas of Somerset such as ‘Gun Alley’ could have an adverse effect.
He told the Bermuda Sun: “Suppression will cause groups to re-group going further back into areas. It also will bring a sense of defence from the individuals involved that would violently hurt us later.
“Restoration, however, will provide hope that would cause young men to be productive residents in their communities.”
Pastor Bean said prevention, intervention and mediation remained the key solutions to Bermuda’s gang problem. He added: “One of my greatest fears is now on the fringes of becoming reality.
“There have been talks about the young men being singled out by the police on Cambridge Road in Sandy’s Parish.
“Both parties have legal rights. The young men have the right to gather peaceably while the police have the right underneath the new powers of the PACE Act to enforce the law if they believe that there is criminal activity taking place.
“But here we are coming in with suppression, which in any of our books should be the last resort.
“This by no means is to condone criminal activity and where it’s seen manifested it should be punished by the law.
But at the same token, it would be remiss not to talk about the reverse side, which could be committed by the authorities, which can violate someone’s constitutional rights.
“The approach, if it starts correct, it will end correct.”
Under the new ‘authorization to disperse’ laws police can move on people causing disturbances and ban them from congregating in the area for two weeks.
Those who ignore the order face up to three months in prison and a $2,500 fine.
The laws came into force for the first time in areas of Somerset on Wednesday.
Pastor Bean said: “Our solution for restoration to our land is not going to happen overnight.
“Trust needs to be built. This helps to foster intimate relationships that also ignite hope within the individuals and the communities that they are a part of. Inter-action is also a key component.
“This engages the demographics that one is dealing with, such as family, close knitted childhood friends, and the general environment of that particular community. Inclusion is also a very vital aspect. Most of these young men, believe it or not, are businessmen.Not quite in the mannerisms we see it, but they do understand the concept of business. They have to just be taught how to facilitate the gifts that they have to be more productive.
“There are a lot of frustrated young men that feel that no one’s listening to their side and we need to take the time to listen to the various groups throughout the island.”
We contacted police for a response to Pastor Bean’s claims, but without success.