The Royal Gazette:-The former girlfriend of a known gangster said women play a part in the causes and solutions to Bermuda’s violence.
Juanae Crockwell used her presentation at an anti-violence event to reflect on the role and responsibility women have for the state of the community.
Ms Crockwell said: “As women, we hold a lot of the responsibility in this national crisis, because somewhere along the way we made it OK for them.
“We made it acceptable for them.”
Ms Crockwell was one of several speakers at a pre-launch party at the BPSU headquarters in Hamilton for the second issue of Visionz — the anti-violence magazine created by Desmond Crockwell.
Ms Crockwell also clarified the old saying that behind every successful man is a woman.
“It’s not just successful men that we stand behind,” she said.
“We stand behind all of them, in one way or another, whether they are successful or they are not. Whether they are in streets or they are in the church.”
When she was 19, Ms Crockwell began a relationship with a man she described as a known gangster — a career criminal, drug dealer and user.
She said the five-year relationship “ripped my whole life apart”.
And she added that for years afterwards she blamed the man for the perceived damage he had done to her.
But Ms Crockwell, the sister of the late MP Shawn Crockwell, said that after learning how to love and value herself, her perspective shifted.
She explained: “I don’t take responsibility for his choices, but I made it OK for him to live that life during the time that he was with me.
“I made it OK for him to use drugs, to commit crimes, to abuse me and others.
“We’re not pulling the trigger, but we are playing a part in their demise when we ignore, and accept, and glorify. When we glorify this lifestyle we are glorifying killing each other.”
Ms Crockwell said that apathy towards antisocial behaviour was approval.
“When we get into relationships with these so-called gangsters, we are telling them it’s OK,” she said.
“When we accept money and material gestures from them we are telling them it’s OK to live a life of crime. And it’s not OK.”
Business owner Kenneth Butterfield said that responsibility for solving the current situation also laid with the broader community.
“What you guys are talking about, I’m going to do,” he said.
Mr Butterfield’s business Ascendant Technologies Ltd was founded along with his brother Tyrone in 2008.
ATL employs eight men under the age of 25 from at-risk neighbourhoods and Mr Butterfield said all of them started with no skills.
“Three to six months, these guys are experts,” he said.
And Mr Butterfield said the ‘teach one, reach one’ role was one he said he was prepared to play.
He promised: “I’ll be the teacher, and I’ll reach a lot of them.”
But he criticised the lack of help for his efforts to help others.
Mr Butterfield said: “The issue that I have now is that I have had no support from government. Not one bit of support.”
He added that most of the support for his business came from international rather than local companies.
Mr Butterfield said: “We just need a little bit more support from our own people.
“You give me the resources, I’ll give you the results.”
Kenneth Matthew, a recovering drug addict and counsellor, echoed Mr Butterfield’s commitment to the betterment of community members.
He said: “I’m putting my money, my time, my life to help each and every person in this country.”
Mr Matthew told the audience how his past lifestyle had led to prison in both in Bermuda and the United States. He was also shot while in Jamaica.
He added: “Five of my closest friends are no longer here.
“They’re either dead, or the last one is in jail for the rest of his life.”
Since returning to the island, he has worked to try and help others, including thorough founding Trust Recovery, to assist in the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
He has also served as director of the drug and alcohol education programme at Westgate.
Mr Matthew said: “Our community is sick right now, and we need to find some solutions.
“This situation is a dire situation.” He added that the offer of help extended to all in need.
Mr Matthew said: “I don’t care what colour you are, I don’t care where you come from, but if you are on this soil here, you’re my family.”
Ms Crockwell added: “I believe that if we collectively raise the bar, our men will rise to meet it.”
“And I think we should give it a try.”