This afternoon; Bermudians young and old, black and white, vaccinated and unvaccinated joined together at the Cabinet Grounds in Hamilton, to protest Premier David Burt’s current leadership and some Coronavirus restrictions that are currently in place, specifically in relation to unvaccinated persons entering the country. Hosted by Free Democratic Movement founding member and community activist C. Eugene Dean, hundreds of supporters turned out for the demonstration.
Premier Burt briefly addressed the crowd before he and the Cabinet went back into the building, where they stayed for the remainder of the protest.
“ The work in which [the Cabinet and the Progressive Labor Party] is doing will continue. I welcome the suggestions and recommendations which have been given to me today and will give each of them due consideration, and I am grateful to live in a democracy where everyone gets to express their opinion,” he said.
In a letter written to Premier Burt, the Concerned Citizens group, who helped organize the demonstration, voiced their shock by some of the tactics used by Premier Burt and his Cabinet to further what they consider to be uncertain agendas with very unclear objectives.
“ There has been a lack of transparency and objectivity, an unwillingness to communicate and an outright disregard for input from the broader community; regardless of its nature, relevance or potential to move our country forward,” the letter read.
“ I’m a hardworking Bermudian who does not need to be treated differently simply because you may not like a decision that I made,” chef and community activist Antonio Belvedere, who read the letter aloud on behalf of the group, added. “ What this government is doing is inhumane and illegal . . . Bermudians need to stop being so passive, do your research and find out your rights.”
In addition to the letter, the Concerned Citizens handed Premier Burt a list of seven what they consider “ demands” for the Government.
The first one is to suspend all new travel regulations, specifically the mandatory quarantine in a hotel for unvaccinated persons.
They also requested the end of policies that discriminate against unvaccinated persons, that the Government stop the vaccination program for children (under 18) and young adults and that they slowly end the process of PCR testing, or at least reduce the number of times people are mandated to test after arrival in Bermuda.
Concerned Citizens also wish for the Government to eliminate the SafeKey program; as they consider it an invasion of their privacy and it exposes people’s personal medical information.
Not every “demand” posed to the Premier was about eliminations, however. The group also stated that the government should focus more on virus management and treatment, through acknowledging the presence of natural immunity, hosting conversations on effective COVID treatments (besides receiving a vaccination) and prioritizing adverse effects of COVID vaccines the same way that they have been promoted.
Concerned Citizens’ final suggestion was that the government assemble a diverse panel of community stakeholders to assist with COVID-19 policymaking.
Well-known Bermudian lawyer and Director of Chancery Legal Mark Pettingill, who happens to be representing the pressure group Constitutional Freedom Bermuda in a high-profile case regarding the constitutionality of the Bermuda government’s current Coronavirus regulations for travellers (which is set to be heard in the Supreme Court next week), offered a brief legal perspective on the issue to the large crowd.
Even though Bermuda’s constitution indeed gives the government the right to take certain actions during a health crisis ( such as the COVID-19 pandemic) that compromises some rights from citizens, he highlighted, these rights should only be compromised “ if they are reasonably required in the interest of public health.”
“ No one can safely say that [ the government’s mandatory hotel quarantine policy] is okay and makes sense,” Mr. Pettingill said. “Therefore, I am asking the government, before we get into messy court cases, to please try and justify the sensibilities of their current positions and to possibly reconsider and change them.”
Next to take the podium was Board Certified Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine at the Clinic of Natural Medicine, Dr. Amani Flood; who voiced that no one in power is standing up for the interests of unvaccinated people in Bermuda.
She also called mandatory hotel quarantine for unvaccinated travellers an “insurmountable obstacle to our freedom of movement and freedom of participation in the activities of a normal society.”
“It is coercion [by the government], it is wrong and it must be dismantled now,” she added.
Mr. Dean then introduced Tracey and Janine Richards, who have played and still play a large within this entire movement. Here is a snippet of what Tracey, representing the Bermuda Freedom Alliance, had to say during the demonstration:
“ We are witnessing blatant violations of our rights, including the trampling of human dignity. We are witnessing democracy crumbling as governments [worldwide] continue to exert unnecessary powers in the name of authoritarian control.”
“ Freedom is a natural state that we are born into,” Ms. Richards said. “ All man-made laws hinder on this concept. We own these rights as we own the bodies that our spirits reside in. In the field of human rights, violation of bodily integrity of another [person] is regarded as an unethical infringement, intrusive and criminal.”
Duane Santucci was next up to speak, and he began by mentioning the many struggles that Bermuda and Bermudians have faced and overcame throughout the centuries. Bearing this in mind, Mr. Santucci does not believe that the island has faced a time like this, where protesters have come onto Cabinet Grounds to “ demand the removal of a sitting Premier and Minister of Health, while in office.”
“ Do not worry about [some members of the PLP] committing political suicide, they have already done it,” he told attendees.
Sophia Cannonier, Owner and Director of the Bermuda Health Cooperative Ltd., was slightly more toned-down in her address to the crowd. Nevertheless, she highlighted some important points.
After contracting the Coronavirus when coming back from the U.K., Ms. Cannonier requested a COVID T-Cell antibody test for herself and her family.
“ The labs were not allowed to draw blood because it would upset the government’s rollout of the vaccine,” she said.
Eventually, the lab at the Hospital allowed them to receive antibody tests. Ms. Cannonier and her family all had proven antibodies as of January of this year, and she still had those antibodies as of April.
Ms. Cannonier’s experiences with the virus led her to co-found the Naturally Covid Immunity Bermuda (NCIB) group. She encouraged people to check their own COVID status without having to get a government test.
“ If you test [with the government], they have your DNA. Once they have your DNA, they can control you,” she said.
FDM candidate and fellow community activist Enda Matthie also addressed demonstrators, telling them that they are the government and the ones that put the people in government where they are now.
“ When the governing body, whoever they are, forget that they are in service to us, then we must remind them. If [or when] they do not listen, vote them out,” she said. “ Find somebody in your midst whom you can vote for who is honest, true and has integrity, because we [the people] have had enough.”
A gentleman named Dwight was next to take the podium and he spoke about the injustice of, in his opinion, the government forcing Bermudians to take the vaccine or face a 14-day hotel quarantine upon returning to the island as a result.
“ [This policy is] a violation of people’s civil rights and of freedom of economy. It is nothing more than a bullying tactic to punish those who have decided against the jab,” he said. “Bermuda, it is time to take your rights and freedoms and stop the tyranny.”
As the hours-long demonstration was coming to a close, Mr. Dean offered some words of encouragement to those in attendance on the Cabinet Grounds and those who may be watching at home.
“After being pushed and pulled by propaganda over and over, inundated with lies and innuendos, false statements, unclear agendas and things that we have no knowledge of . . . we come together united. We love all of Bermuda,” he said. “ Revolutions come from people, not governments. We are here today because we are the change-makers and we make the difference . . . We have to find the means to work together and survive, regardless of what [decision makers in power] may decide to do or not to do. It’s only through unity that we will find the strength to succeed.”
Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful, or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites, or repeats previous comments will be removed.
User comments posted on this website are solely the views and opinions of the comment writer and are not a representation of or reflection of the opinions of TNN or its staff.
TNN reserves the right to remove, edit or censor any comments.
TNN accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for the comments made by users.