Kevin Comeau, a retired lawyer said gangs were recruiting like never before and after six months of research, meeting with  Attorney General Kim Wilson, Police, social workers and teachers to get insight on the issue of gang violence he has learnt that local gangs are actively looking to get more members and even targeting high school students. 

Due to space constarints the following is a summary of Kevin Comeau's speech. To see an entire copy of this  excellent presentation, please visit the 'opinion' page (Wednesday Aug, 11) at .



1          Gang violence is much more threatening to the social and economic foundation of Bermuda than it is in other countries, for four reasons:

(i) The gang shootings are much closer to each and every one of our homes, thereby increasing our risk of physical harm.

(ii) The gang violence is more threatening to our economy because our principal source of revenue-international business-is controlled by individuals who generally are not citizens of Bermuda and often don't even own a home here.  Therefore, if the violence continues to escalate, there is much less reason for them to stick around to find out whether Bermuda can get the violence under control-they will simply move to another country.  If even 30% of these companies leave, the economic and social consequences to Bermuda will be devastating;

(iii) Our population is so small, where everybody knows everybody, that jury convictions are more difficult to obtain, witnesses are more reluctant to testify and the urge for retribution for gang shootings is more prevalent, which is a major source of gang recruitment.

(iv) The geographical size of Bermuda is so small that a witness protection program is equivalent to banishment from the island.  Therefore the personal cost to a witness is so high that they often choose to remain silent, making it more difficult for police and prosecutors to obtain convictions.


2          Bermuda gangs are at war and to win wars you need firepower and manpower.  As a result, the gangs are doing everything they can to bring in more guns and to recruit more members.  This recruitment includes coercing school children into gangs by beating them up until they capitulate.


3          We can dramatically reduce gang violence in Bermuda by enacting anti-gang legislation advocated by the United Nations and already enacted in Canada and many other countries.  While there are two basic types of anti-gang legislation-(i) making gang membership itself a crime and (i) making criminal gang behavior a crime-only the latter is appropriate for Bermuda because many Bermuda gang members are kids who were coerced into membership.  By taking this step-by targeting criminal gang behavior rather than membership-we can focus on swiftly bringing to justice those persons who are terrorizing our community while excluding those who are merely young boys caught in a no-win situation.


4.         By adopting the Canadian model that makes gang behavior illegal, we will give police and prosecutors a much bigger stick to (i) negotiate guilty pleas and (ii) get gang members to testify against other gang members.  This rebalances the judicial playing field by (i) making up for the difficulty of getting innocent witnesses to testify, many of whom are scared of gang retaliation even after the accused is sent to jail (other gang members will carry out the threat) and (ii) avoiding a contested trial, particularly a jury trial, which makes convictions less certain.


5          We can protect our children from being recruited into gangs by enacting anti-gang recruitment legislation already enacted in the United States and many other countries.


6          We can reduce the threat of gang violence in the future by implementing a continuous garnishment registration program that will (i) increase the income level of single-parent families, (ii) reduce the need for single-parent moms to work a second or third job, thereby increasing the time mothers can spend nurturing their children and helping them with homework, (iii) increase the time fathers spend nurturing their children and helping them with homework, (iv) increase parent and child involvement in community activities, (v) discourage out-of-wedlock pregnancies and (vi) reduce the national debt and thereby also reduce upward pressure on taxes. 


7          We can further reduce the threat of gang violence in the future by changing the entire way government gives subsidies by making part of the payment of such subsidies conditional upon the recipient taking parenting and other courses to learn how to more positively guide their children to be contributing members of society.


8          Conclusion:

"We can dramatically reduce the threat of gang violence, a threat that is not only much greater than in most other countries, but also growing much faster; a threat that, if left to continue on its present course, will not only cause the deaths of more and more Bermudians and the inconsolable grief of their loved ones, but will likely result in a mass exodus of international business and with it an end to our way of life for generations to come.

By enacting much needed anti-gang legislation, and by adopting policies to reduce the frequency and depth of those social factors that strongly correlate with at-risk children joining gangs, we can stop our accelerated march toward the abyss and take our first step toward a safer society.  But to do so, we must first recognize the full extent of the threat that is now upon us so that we will have the sense of urgency to act swiftly, the knowledge to act wisely, and the courage to act decisively."