Bermuda police launch probe into threat against Premier
HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC):
Police have begun an investigation after a graphic threat against the life of Premier Michael Dunkley was being circulated on a social networking service, with the poster requesting that he be contacted if willing accomplices wish his “family’s info, his address and the addresses and numbers for his colleagues”.
The account, named 'dunkleymustdie', had almost 1,000 followers by Saturday morning, the Royal Gazette newspaper said.
The threat came in the wake of a violent showdown between protesters blocking the gates of Parliament on Friday and riot police under orders to clear them.
Images of the confrontation, which included the use of pepper spray against demonstrators, many of them seniors and women, have upset residents in this British Overseas Territory
“Police are aware of the social-media threats to the Premier and his family and have commenced an investigation into the matter,” a police spokesman said.
“Additionally, the offensive posting has been brought to the attention of the service provider for review.”
Hundreds gathered outside the Sessions House, which includes the House of Assembly and Supreme Court, early on Friday following a call by new Opposition Leader David Burt for a demonstration against government plans for a new airport terminal.
While the protesters successfully prevented MPs entering the House, tensions came to a head in the early afternoon when police made efforts to move them.
Protesters chanted and linked arms to remain in place and, during a heated exchange, police attempted to disperse them with spray. The move prompted a furious reaction from protesters, union leaders and opposition Progressive Labour Party MPs.
People who were sprayed were seen treating themselves in the street with water and cream, while two female crowd members were helped into an ambulance. Witnesses said one woman was injured after a confrontation with police, and several officers were reportedly attacked.
Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva said the incident was “regrettable”, but maintained that protesters were acting unlawfully by obstructing others and assaulting police.
Dunkley had earlier said residents should have nothing to fear in the wake of disruptions that have delayed the legislature’s debate on the airport plan.
“I feel perfectly safe and comfortable tonight in spite of what took place today,” he said, adding “I urge people, don’t be concerned about your safety. If you have those concerns, contact the police. I feel that Bermuda is still a very safe place.
“It’s really tragic and unfortunate what happened today, but people should not be concerned about their safety unless they put themselves in confrontational issues that can be contentious.”
Dunkley said the altercation had caused him and his colleagues “great distress”, adding that “images of our seniors and members of our public being pepper-sprayed is not something that should be happening in Bermuda. We recognise that it is our democratic right to protest, so it pains me greatly that the end result of today’s protest impeded democracy.”
He stressed the need for the island to find more productive means of communicating, saying such disruption of the democratic process could not become the norm.
Speaker Randy Horton said the House of Assembly session would take place next Friday.