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NEWS BLOG: Pembroke MP reacts to city triple shooting

Pembroke MP Ashfield DeVent yesterday called on Bermudians to stop marching through his back of town constituency — and do something that really makes a difference instead.

Mr. DeVent said marchers are doing nothing to prevent the gun violence which resulted in yet another fatal shooting — 26-year-old James (Junior) Lawes — on his patch on Friday night.

The Progressive Labour Party backbencher told the House of Assembly the only way to end the spiral is to make sure the criminals are caught.

He also called for metal detectors to be put in the Island's two senior schools Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy claiming that children as young as 17 are involved in the gun mayhem.

"I'm not one of those people that believes in marches," said Mr. DeVent during a debate on gun violence in yesterday's Motion to Adjourn.

"If I had a hole in the roof of my house, I don't think it makes any sense marching around the house. You have to get on the roof and fix it.

"Some of those people probably might even march through the area to see how other people normally live. That's an area I represent. I live in the middle of this.

"It's no sense marching. I personally don't want to see any more people marching through my area because it does absolutely nothing.

"You go home and say, 'I did something.' You did absolutely nothing. It's not about marching, not about holding candlelit vigils, it's about catching those criminals. Marches? Marches are not the answer. Do something constructive."

Several marches have taken place in Pembroke since gun trouble reached unprecedented heights shortly before Christmas, including a 'One Community Day' walk through areas including Friswell's Hill and St. Monica's Road in January.

Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva has welcomed such initiatives, saying they show the community is coming together in a united front against violence.

But Mr. DeVent argued many people have been ignoring clear warning signs for many years, despite the fact he has been beating the drum about them in the House of Assembly since 2002.

"There are places where somehow we allow certain activities to take place over an extended period of time," he said.

"This is the fruit of what we have allowed to take place. Let's be blunt and honest. We have some young people in this Country right now who have no respect for the value of life."

He said perpetrators have now become so brazen he's heard Friday night's attackers didn't even bother covering their faces.

Mr. Lawes, a father-of-one, was killed as he stood chatting to friends outside Place's Place bar in Mr. DeVent's Pembroke South East constituency; two others were injured in the drive-by shooting.

"What happened on Friday was a crowded area, right outside where any of us could have stepped outside and found ourselves in the middle of it," said the MP.

"That particular stretch of street has activity going on that's irregular since I was so-high. When you allow that to grow and grow and grow, eventually they don't have any respect for law and order."

And he urged Education Minister Elvin James to "seriously consider putting metal detectors in the two senior schools".

"The ages of those people that might be carrying guns are much younger than you might think. Within this next summer I predict we will see an escalation in this violence," he said.

"We are talking about 17-, 18-year-olds in our schools. That's the age of some of the people involved in this activity. Let's stop pretending. We took a long time to admit we really had a gang problem."

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