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Did Marines Do Duty In Attack? Officers Relieved And Probe Starts Over Smashed Columbus

The Columbus statue at Government House with an arm and a leg missing after being attacked with a sledgehammer on Saturday. Photo: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff

The Columbus statue at Government House with an arm and a leg missing after being attacked with a sledgehammer on Saturday. Photo: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff

By FARRAH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

fjohnson@tribunemedia.net

ROYAL Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Raymond King said the officers who were on duty when a man trespassed on Government House property and partially destroyed a statue of Christopher Columbus have been relieved of their duties.

On Saturday afternoon, a man was arrested for damaging the monument with a sledgehammer. Video footage capturing the man shouting “I bringing him down” while causing extensive destruction to the statue made the rounds on social media over the weekend.

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Police were dispatched to the scene around 1.20pm. When they arrived, they arrested the man who was also found with a bullet proof vest for which he could not give a satisfactory account.

Police said he was taken into custody for damage to government property and unlawful possession. Investigations into this matter are ongoing.

After Commodore King and his executive team visited Mount Fitzwilliam to examine the extent of the damage, he revealed that the RBDF had launched an internal inquiry into the matter.

“I’ve only just recently received the report for the death of (Petty Officer) Percival Perpall and the deficiencies that would have been alluded to by the committee with the view of correcting those deficiencies and the overall state of security and safety here at Government House,” he said. “The watch has been relieved of its duties and an internal inquiry has started with a view to determining the extent, scope and perceptibly unchallenged vandalism that was permitted to occur.”

Commodore King said he did not wish to “preempt or to bias” the inquiry; however, he did acknowledge that Government House was under “active construction.”

“It is a construction site, but the matter will be dealt with completely, thoroughly and transparently and those being held culpable for allowing this damage to occur will be held accountable for what transpired here.”

Yesterday, National Security Minister Wayne Munroe said he also intends to look into the issue.

Mr Munroe said as a lawyer, he knew that most soldiers could not “affect arrest” besides those who were “specially detailed” to work along with the police. He said the “first thing” he will be asking for is to see “what were the standing orders of the sentries.”

“I would also like to know what (were) the prevailing circumstances (and) whether there was good cause for them to alert on sounds of demolition on a construction, because Government House is now a construction site,” he continued. “In fairness to the men who put their lives at risk, I think they should be given a fair opportunity. If they are in default, then their default is addressed and if they’re not, then they’re to be defended like anybody else who isn’t in default.”

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A cover is placed around the statue after it was damaged.

Mr Munroe said he did not intend to have any “knee-jerk reaction or views”. He also said he does not assume that members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force or the Police Force are “derelict in their duties”, but instead assumes that they “perform their duties correctly” until it is demonstrated to him that they have not.

When asked if he was concerned that an individual was able to access the Government House property so easily to damage the statue, Mr Munroe said he was not surprised as the monument was on an “open, unbarricaded staircase”.

There is a low gate at the bottom of the staircase.

“If you really don’t want people on it, I would imagine you would erect a barricade,” he said. “There is no barricade there from what I could tell. You could walk up and down the stairs without (being) met with hindrance. Unless you’re going to post a standing guard there at all times, then people are going to be able to walk up and down.”

Mr Munroe said he has seen a review that was produced following the 2019 fatal shooting of Officer Perpall at Government House.

He said there were some recommendations “that go toward securing a life more than property,” as well as another recommendation advising for the expansion of CCTV coverage.

“In the Ministry of National Security there is some priority on upgrading the technology that is available to law enforcement and security personnel,” he said. “But unless the Bahamian public wants the Commodore of the Defence Force or the Commissioner of Police to stand an officer up to watch statues like Queen Victoria (and) like the bust in Rawson Square, people are going to have access to them and the only question will be if something happens, can you determine who it was.”

Yesterday, Prime Minister Phillip “Brave Davis” also spoke against the “act of disobedience” that resulted in the “destruction of public property”.

“We are not to condone that and we don’t condone that,” he said. “Whatever the historical significance and protest that has come from it in respect to Columbus’ encounter with the Bahamas, that’s one issue. In fact, I sympathise and empathise with some of the voices that are speaking to the fact of realigning history so that it’s true facts are revealed and interpreted. And so I do share and understand some of the sentiments, but this is not the way to express those sentiments by destruction of public property.”

Mr Davis said the person who is responsible for the act will be “dealt with according to law”. As it relates to whether the statue will be replaced, Mr Davis said that question was “another issue” that will be addressed at Cabinet level before a decision is made going forward as there was a “loud cry out there” for the nation to ensure that its “history is properly represented; particularly as it relates to the African diaspora.”

Asked if he was concerned about the effectiveness of RBDF given apparent lapses on the Government House compound on more than one occasion, he said: “I think we must all remember that we are all humans and we are fallible. But we expect some standard of behaviour when you enlist in certain disciplines and, yes, there may be lapses, but I’m assured by the commodore that effective measures are being taken to correct all these errors that have been seemingly (caused by) the lack of attention by the officers.”

An online petition started last year to have the statue removed from Government House has garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

Comments

hrysippus 1 week, 3 days ago

I must perceptibly challenge he vandalism offered the English language by the good Commodore. The wide spread mangling of syntax by state employed workers like the commodore and elected officials both is probably enacted to sound erudite, It fact it just is comedic.

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1pnewman 1 week, 2 days ago

'I must perceptibly challenge he vandalism offered the English language by the good Commodore'. This must be the type of sentence you were referencing when you wrote about people mangling syntax. Can you 'perceptibly' see this ? You're comedic in your attempts to come across as some kind of pseudo-intellectual.

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tribanon 1 week, 3 days ago

Davis said: "I sympathise and empathise with some of the voices that are speaking to the fact of realigning history so that it’s true facts are revealed and interpreted."

And who does Davis think should get to determine which historical facts are true and which are false, as if somehow the past can be altered to suit the mood or political agenda du jour of loud mouthed special interest activists who lack a good education. LMAO

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themessenger 1 week, 3 days ago

Davis and Munroe starting out on the wrong foot already by making excuse's for and giving the negligent Government House guard detail a free pass. This has nothing to do with guarding statues Mr. Munroe, rather the security of Government House grounds at large. If a man wearing a bullet proof vest can enter the property with impunity and destroy a statue with a sledge hammer while screaming at the top of his lungs, if I were the Governor General I would quite rightly be concerned with the RBDF's dereliction of duty when it comes to my personal safety and that of my staff. RBDF marines might not have powers of arrest but they are certainly armed and should have at the very least forcibly detained him. Slack is back, they won't let you down, they won't disappoint you!

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 3 days ago

You dont know that the guards were negligent. I suspect they did everything they were asked to do. Just like security guards they have a schedule by which they walk the grounds. If they walking on the southern side of the grounds and the guy in the northern side, or its not the time to walk the grounds, how were they negligent?

Its not the officers, its "the system"

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Emilio26 1 week, 3 days ago

It seems like gated communities such as Lyford Cay, Old Fort Bay and Ocean Club are more protected than the Government House.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 2 days ago

not really. They have a gate that law abiding citizens have never attempted to drive through. Its the only difference

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joeblow 1 week, 3 days ago

... we always seem to import the worse of other countries and now the moronic vandalizing of statues?

Those who want to re-write history should see it being repeated to those of this race. After all, if you substitute political party for race in this country, you would see race never stopped blacks from treating other blacks in the ways they accuse Columbus of when it benefits them!

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bahamianson 1 week, 3 days ago

You may not like the current Prime Minister, but you must respect the office of the Prime Minister. Davis is ojr Prime Minister. In that vein, Government House is an sovereign place, or represents a.sovereign place. We all should respect that. It is not about guarding statues, it is about the sovereignty of then"office". We must teach respect in schools.

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themessenger 1 week, 3 days ago

@bahamianson, with all due respect, respect starts with self respect something sadly lacking in far too many of our people. With respect to teaching respect in schools? How about we leave that to be taught by the parents, oh, sorry, I forgot parenting was a lost art in this country. How about we teach the history of the Bahamas in its entirety, warts and all, before what remains of our Colonial history is destroyed like the Columbus statue. Next on the list will be Woodes Rodgers, Queen Victoria then the Forts and Queens Stair Case. The only statues that will remain are those of Sir Milo and Sir Lynden as we all know history in this country can only trace its origins back to 1967.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 3 days ago

lol. you talking about a manic person... "respect"?

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carltonr61 1 week, 3 days ago

More than likely the 16,000 signatories to Columbus' statue destruction are the descendent families of freed slaves who paid for the statue in 1833. Only The Bahamas alone could demand the presence of Spanish, African, the Indiginous people of the America's to one location of historical commanality. We have failed to monitized this gift of October 12 happening. We need statues showing blacks selling blacks into slavery killing mothers and fathers to steal their children. Maybe then we will realize the filth in our filthy, murderous historical pot that depleted Africa of its youth.

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FrustratedBusinessman 1 week, 3 days ago

Bahamians are talking garbage about a statue while I just spent the holiday weekend with no running water for most of it. Please fix the basic issues in this country before arguing over dumb bullcrap like this.

My God, it is 2021 and we still can't have consistent running water or electricity. Nobody ever wants to fix the basic issues with this place. Exactly why we only keep sliding further down the tubes.

God knows we have too many 60 IQ idiots in this place.

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KapunkleUp 1 week, 3 days ago

That can't happen because it would make common sense and common sense left a long time ago.

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KapunkleUp 1 week, 3 days ago

Say what you want but the crazy guy was smart enough to wear a vest. Never know when our kindergarden cops decide to start shooting.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 3 days ago

he's not "crazy". If he was indeed having a manic episode, he's in an altered state and he is able to plan in that state even if his plans are irrational

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KapunkleUp 1 week, 3 days ago

You realize you just killed off his trial defense - temporary insanity.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 2 days ago

"mania" isnt temporary. It comes and goes and some episodes can last for months untreated. When I saw the shouting and the exxagerated machismo, the first thought that hit my mind was "he's manic". He might not be, but its the first thing I thought.

His mother also said he started acting strangely in 2019. He told the judge een nothing wrong with him... well... no sane man would say dat

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bahamianson 1 week, 3 days ago

Exactly. He was manic enough to think and plan that he needed a vest. He even mentioned to the police thag he was giving up. A manic individual would not do that.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 3 days ago

What are the procedures? Are they required to walk the ground continuously? Stand beside the statue every second? If not think its NOT their fault. Also the culture has allowed slackness for decades.

My suggestion, review the shift system. Is a 12 hour guard duty feasible in the AM hours? I dont know. Seems to me the body wants to move with the earths lunar cycle and sleep. Maybe they need to be relieved every hour or 2 hours. Then they need cctv coverage over the compound because unless you have enough soldiers to man every 5ft along the property perimeter, you just relying on the good behaviour of the peace loving Bahamians

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TalRussell 1 week, 3 days ago

If good enough mother country( to so address The premiership of Boris Johnson which began on 24 July 2019 when Comrade Boris accepted Queen Elizabeth's 11 invitation, at her prerogative, to form a new administration.
It followed the resignation of Theresa May, who stood down as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party following Parliament's repeated rejection of her Brexit withdrawal agreement. Johnson was declared leader after the results of the leadership election were announced on 23 July 2019. The extraordinary political turmoil over Brexit, begun during Theresa May's
premiership, continued into the start of Johnson's premiership and everything like that with England still being we's Subjects' mother country and swearing in we new government by the Queen's** resident governor general and did swear that all 39 will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors.and everything like that. — Yes?

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mandela 1 week, 3 days ago

Now, this guy makes history, good for him.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 3 days ago

Totally agree with Munroe. Its not the officers' fault. They are probably required to walk the grounds every 30 minutes and they most likely did that. Those instructions would not have prevented this incident and its an insult/slap in the face to them that they were relieved of duty for even one second after carrying out the instructions they were given by superiors.

Like I said previously its the system of incompetence that doesn't question system design that is at fault. We put people in place to brag about how "young" they are or how nice they look in the pictures. "You see how nice their shoes and bag match? dats Leadership material right there! They could be PM". We lucky any a Columbus lef'.

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themessenger 1 week, 3 days ago

You and Munroe obviously never served in the military. In any other mans armed forces you'd be up on charges for dereliction of duty. Are you and Munroe suggesting that that guy was not only able to just walk onto the property, but beat on the statue with a sledge hammer for a considerable length or time, all the while screaming and hollering at the top of his lungs without attracting the attention of what should be a roving patrol detail? They were probably all down at the Imperial getting a conch snack and a beer.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 3 days ago

Your reading comprehension is bad. But nevertheless, you did guess right, I have never served in the military. Ive also never run a country before.

So, my first question was "exactky what were their marching orders"? were they charged with watching the statue 24/7? If that was their job, then yes they failed. If their job was not to watch "the statue" 24/7 but to walk the entire of the grounds every half hour for example and there is no command center with cctv giving a view of threats to the compound... then my point is THE SYSTEM is the failure, these guys would be convenient scape goats of unimaginative and dull thinking. It doesnt matter if we kept the same misguided "military" procedure for 1000 years, they would still be misguided rules unfit for the effective security of that expansive compound

If theyd run to detain that man and 5 men ran through the side gate and into the building because he was the distraction in some elaborate terrorist attack, what then? I maintain the "system" is the problem

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TalRussell 1 week, 3 days ago

The Colony's Comrades' Popoulaces' also asks if it is true that a Royal Governor and Aid of Bermuda had been assassinated when the rule of the gun and everything like that became the temporary way of life on the island — not just the act of a single individual's civil disobedience?
Guessing will be a plea how he'd just had enough Christopher Columbus and everything like that to has got his internal anger up to his knickers and everything like that, sufficiently so to carry out an amputation the statue's leg beneath the knee. — If i recall correctly, they also shot the dog, — Yes?

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themessenger 1 week, 3 days ago

@tal, yes, they did shoot the dog, but the Bermudian authorities also hanged "Buck" Burrows and Larry Tacklyn for doing the deed.

Not saying we guvmint should hang the desecrator of the statue, but a good cut ass would certainly be in order.

They should do it publicly on the govmint grounds behind Mount Fitzwilliam and sell peanuts, popcorn & beers.

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TalRussell 1 week, 2 days ago

@ComradeTheMess, surprised how aligned you've become with Comrade Bran's — Collaborative commitment to Singaporeian laws — That if elected as we premier of his willingness to publicly carry them out in Rawson Square and everything like that..
— If anyone thinks about removing the statue of Christopher Columbus who hasn't played physical role on the local scene for 529 years, just wait until they've read up on the more current in history, Comrade Woodes Rogers', — Yes?

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John 1 week, 3 days ago

Well if there is a legal matter then the first issue would be to establish ownership. And that would be the virtual complainant. And if, according to historical records, this statue was purchased by the funds of hardworking, Black slaves, then it is their property. Do they want to press charges? Do they still want their property being indecently and offensively exposed? Or do they want to load their now damaged property on a barge and dump it deep into the ocean? Or do they want to move the offense to a less conspicuous location and charge a fee to visitors and spectators? Turn a travesty int profits.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 3 days ago

I find Bahamians are often unwilling to open their minds and think outside of some established paradigm. Everybody mad at this man and some statue but the issue do much bigger than that. We constantly end up with our pants around our ankles. We had a parade of the best fashion a day or two ago but where is the parade of "substance" and who is doing the thinking?

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John 1 week, 3 days ago

And the strange thing about Colombus losing an arm and a leg are the same set who rejected this statue being erected in Parliament Square. So the rejected ‘stone’ is now twice rejected. And the cry babies still cry.

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GodSpeed 1 week, 2 days ago

no matter how many statues you break you can't erase the history of what happened....500 years before you were born. So find something contemporary to concern yourself with.

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John 1 week, 2 days ago

You may can’t change the fact that a spouse cheated. But that doesn’t mean you keep an oversized portrait of them hanging in your bedroom.

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