To avoid race riots and the resulting negative impact on tourism, a succession of Bermudian government administrations has whitewashed the assassinations of Bermuda’s governor and police chief in the early 1970s by a radical black-power group known as the Black Beret Cadre.
by Mel Ayton
During 1972 and 1973 the North Atlantic British colony of Bermuda, which had become a playground for vacationing Americans, was suddenly thrust into a climate of fear when a spate of murders, including political assassinations, occurred. Bermuda became the only British territory ever to have the Queen’s representative murdered in cold blood and the first nation to suffer the violent effects of the importation of 1960s’ American Black Power militancy.
The tragic events of the early 1970s had been viewed by many Bermudian politicians as a stain upon Bermuda’s reputation as a haven for travellers and an island of tranquillity. This attitude prompted them to ignore the Black Power connection to the assassinations lest further investigations stir up trouble between the races and provoke island-wide riots. Political leaders were also afraid that the truth about the murders and the instability of its political system, which the killings exposed, would damage Bermuda’s tourist industry which was its principle source of income.
Additionally, political leaders were embarrassed that a militant Marxist revolutionary organization, the Black Beret Cadre, which had been widely supported by many young Bermudians, was connected to the killings. The Black Berets, usually never attaining a membership of more than 100, modelled themselves on the American Black Panthers. In fact, many of its members had close connections with Black Panthers in the United States. Although two black Bermudians allied with the Berets were tried and executed for the murders, the weak response of the government in establishing a wider conspiracy effectively swept the whole affair under the carpet.