Riots again?

Pan Africanist warns that the 1937 Barbadian spirit is not dead

Don’t push us too far!

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From left, David Denny, John Howell, Onphra Wells and David Comissiong of the Pan African Movement.

This was the stern warning today from the President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong, who stopped just short of predicting a repeat of the 1937 riots.

Comissiong, one of the island’s leading social activists, however cautioned that while Barbadians may be perceived as “conservative and docile people”, the records showed they were not afraid to stand up for their rights.

“I would not like to say that we are on the verge of that [the 1937 riots]. I think 2015 is not 1937 . . . but we are seeing signs that Barbadian people and the trade unions of Barbados have said to this country, ‘don’t push us too far, because . . .  yes, we are committed to talking and negotiating and all of the protocols, but if you push us too far, we reserve the right to engage in mass protests action’,” Comissiong proclaimed today.

Speaking at a press conference where the Pan African Coalition of Organisations (PACO) revealed plans for the Season of Emancipation, he further cautioned “the powers that be”, namely the Government, the business class and all the institutional leaders of Barbados, that “they would do well to remember not to push the Barbadian people too far”.

He described the 1937 uprising in Barbados as the most impactful of all the slave rebellions, which occurred in the Caribbean.

In fact, he pointed out that total deaths from that uprising were more than all of the casualties of the other Caribbean territories combined.

“It is claimed that Barbadians are the most conservative people, but if you go back to the people’s uprisings of 1937, the uprising in Barbados was easily the most substantial and impactful uprising of all of the Caribbean countries. The very number of casualties will tell you so.

“So this idea that Barbadians are docile and conservative people, our history does not bare that out. There is something of a rebel spirit in the Barbadian people and we should all be conscious of that and be proud of that, because it means that while we may be longsuffering, don’t take us for granted, don’t trifle with us, don’t seek to oppress us,” he stressed.

While making it clear he saw nothing wrong with such behaviour, Comissiong insisted that Barbadians were willing to stand up and fight for their rights and such should be viewed as positive.

“This is healthy. If we still have that within our culture, within the institutional culture of our trade unions, if we still have that within the spirit of our people, that is not something for us to be afraid of. That is actually a very positive sign for the society because what it means is that the Barbadian people have it within themselves that if it becomes necessary, to once again to take to the streets, to protest, to raise their voices, to engage in mass action, that this society is capable of that kind of response.

“I would like to think that spirit that was so evident in 1937 has not died. That within the bosom of the masses of the Barbadian people, within the institutional culture of the trade unions that 1937 gave birth too, there is still that determination that this society must move forward, that the Barbadian people must not be oppressed, must not be held back, that there must always be a path forward,” Comissiong said.

Earlier this week, as Parliament debated a resolution in recognition of the 1937 riots, Opposition MP Santia Bradshaw had cautioned that a number of issues, which had sparked those riots, were again prevalent in society, such as poor social and working conditions of the labour class, inequality in society and concentrated wealth in the hands of a few.

The following day, as the Senate debated the same resolution, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer had raised concern about certain elements which she said seemed bent on “stirring up riots”, while calling for a lasting industrial peace.

randybennett@barbadostoday.bb

10 Responses to Riots again?

  1. seagul July 25, 2015 at 7:05 am

    But we’re in a modern Egypt, under a modern Pharoah that had us in bondage for 400 years. And they got a modern conspiracy…..like the Pharoah—kill all the male children and spare the females. They don’t want you connecting to Africa. They say in Africa are only animals and jungle babies…and they want to determine who your friends are going to be. They did it to Marcus Garvey, W.E.B Dubois, Malcolm X. May God rest the great souls.
    Pharoah has decided to let you go, then he has decided to kill you, just like he did the children of Israel.
    We’ve been shaped in iniquity but—we are the children of JAH. So let me say this, Barbadians may be perceived as “conservative and docile people but the records showed they were not afraid to stand up for their rights.
    My family—Amen.

    Reply
  2. carson c cadogan July 25, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Just remember that the Police and Military have bigger and deadlier guns this time around.

    A word to the wise.

    Reply
  3. jrsmith July 25, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Our black history , hasn’t really taken us any where, our young generation ,walking around with they ass hanging out and our black beauties ,bleaching they skins.

    Blacks are the ones who is keeping the flame of racism alive, because we don’t have the balls to stand up for our selves, we are not going to achieve anything, why because our basic survival comes with a quote from the bible or a pray.

    Reply
  4. jrsmith July 25, 2015 at 10:51 am

    @Carson ,C,C, agree with you ,must add , these people ,how are they thinking, are bajans fools , we are not of ghetto mentality, which is so low , you have one pair of trousers , you take it of set it on fire. they are forgetting, our journey from to where we are we have a way of life that bajans are very proud of.

    TO REMEMBER, NOT TO FORGET 1937, LET THAT BE HISTORY , BUT THEN WE NEED A NEW FIGHT WE MUST UNITE , WE MUST CONFRONT OUR GOVERNMENT, WE DEMAND, WHAT THEY SUPPOSE TO DO MANAGE OUR ISLAND, IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY. ITS ABOUT TIME WE SEE SOME POSITIVE CHANGE, OR WE SHOUT AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE FOR A GENERAL ELECTION.

    Reply
  5. Francis Wisdom July 25, 2015 at 11:13 am

    “He described the 1937 uprising in Barbados as the most impactful of all the slave rebellions, which occurred in the Caribbean. In fact, he pointed out that total deaths from that uprising were more than all of the casualties of the other Caribbean territories combined.” And goes on to state, “…the uprising in Barbados was easily the most substantial and impactful uprising of all of the Caribbean countries. The very number of casualties will tell you so.”

    This statement is totally inaccurate for several reasons. Firstly, the abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean occurred in 1833/34. Hence the 1937 uprising in Barbados cannot be called a slave rebellion. This 1937 uprising/riot falls within the period popularly known as the British West Indian labour unrest of 1934–39, which encompassed a series of disturbances, strikes and riots in the United Kingdom’s Caribbean colonies.

    And second, It is debatable to say it was the most impactful riot during this time without knowing what did Barbados gain or sacrifice as a result of these riots/uprisings that was not achieved in any of the other islands that also participated?

    For example, the sugar workers’ and Kingston labourers’ strike in Jamaica in 1938 resulted in riots and 46 deaths. At least 429 were injured, with thousands detained and prosecuted (Ref; Wickapedia). In addition, during the Barbados 1937 riots, it is estimated that 14 people died, 47 injured and more than 500 arrested. This is according to the book, “Labour Rebellions of the 1930s in the British Caribbean Region Colonies,” by Richard Hart.

    Reply
  6. Winston Arthur Trechane July 25, 2015 at 11:18 am

    The Government’s duty, solemnly sworn to under the Constitution of the Independent State of Barbados is to govern the country in the best interest of the People of Barbados. The interests of investors, international loan and finance institutions, the elite and the local entrepreneurial cartel are not to be placed above, not even on par, with the true democratic interests of the People’s quest for a Nation-State of human dignity, social justice, economic equality and international respect.

    Reply
  7. seagul July 25, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Police and military are people with consciences and family as well.

    Reply
  8. gee-gee July 25, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Police are people too, there’re more people than police, we’r all family,

    Reply
  9. Francis Wisdom July 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    A few fatal flaws in the article. “He described the 1937 uprising in Barbados as the most impactful of all the slave rebellions, which occurred in the Caribbean. In fact, he pointed out that total deaths from that uprising were more than all of the casualties of the other Caribbean territories combined.” And goes on to state, “…the uprising in Barbados was easily the most substantial and impactful uprising of all of the Caribbean countries. The very number of casualties will tell you so.”

    This statement is totally inaccurate for several reasons. Firstly, the abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean occurred in 1833/34. Hence the 1937 uprising in Barbados cannot be called a slave rebellion. This 1937 uprising/riot falls within the period popularly known as the British West Indian labour unrest of 1934–39, which encompassed a series of disturbances, strikes and riots in the United Kingdom’s Caribbean colonies.

    And second, It is debatable to say it was the most impactful riot during this time without knowing what did Barbados gain or sacrifice as a result of these riots/uprisings that was not achieved in any of the other islands that also participated?

    For example, the sugar workers’ and Kingston labourers’ strike in Jamaica in 1938 resulted in riots and 46 deaths. At least 429 were injured, with thousands detained and prosecuted (Ref; Wickapedia). In addition, during the Barbados 1937 riots, it is estimated that 14 people died, 47 injured and more than 500 arrested. This is according to the book, “Labour Rebellions of the 1930s in the British Caribbean Region Colonies,” by Richard Hart.

    Reply
  10. wayne dread July 26, 2015 at 5:58 am

    This is why we continue to be a two party society, and the change that we as a people desperately seek and need, appears to be out of reach… instead of creating a platform and persuing an agenda, one see’s this movement piggybacking on the opposition . I question the validity of the numbers, was this a mistake or a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader?

    Reply

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