December 2nd, 2010 Headsman
On this date in 1977, Black Berets Larry Tackly and Erskine “Buck” Burrows were hanged in Bermuda for assassinating the islands’ police chief and governor.
-Book’s advance publicity
The cadres’ agenda for early-1970s Bermuda
was ‘freedom by any means necessary’ which included assassination. Taking their cue from the Black Panthers, whose primary aim was to bait the ‘racist cops’, the Black Berets exhorted its members and all Bermudian youth to confront the ‘English racist police’ as frequently as possible and prepare for the coming conflict between blacks and whites …
Its purpose was to indoctrinate young black Bermudians in communist revolution and the ideology of Black Power.
Cadres Tacklyn and Burrows were one part liberators of their oppressed brothers, one part common criminals.
In 1972, they gunned down white police commissioner (a veteran of Britain’s colonies) George Duckett; in 1973, they ambushed governor (and former Tory M.P.) Richard Sharples and slew him, along with his aide-de-camp.
Neither perp was apprehended, which meant they went on to kill a couple of supermarket executives before someone I.D.’d Tacklyn. Burrows stayed on the lam long enough to rob a bank of $28,000.
The trials were a sensation — apt for the involvement of sensational Bermudian lawyer and politician Julian Hall — with Burrows convicted all around. He openly avowed the political murders.
The motive for killing the Governor (his ADC was not our objective, he was shot only because he happened to be with the Governor at the time) was to seek to make the people, black people in particular, become aware of the evilness and wickedness of the colonialist system in the Island of Bermuda.
Secondly, the motive was to show that these colonialists were just ordinary people like ourselves who eat, sleep and die just like anybody else and that we need not stand in fear or awe of them.
Finally, the motive was to reveal to black people unto themselves.
This refers to the revealed reactions of many black people during the Governor’s funeral, when black people were seen to be standing with tears in their eyes, crying for a man who when he was alive didn’t care if they lived or died and here they were crying for a white Governor and yet when many of their own people pass away there is sometimes hardly a tear shed for them.
This shows clearly the evil effects that the colonialist propaganda has had over the long years they have ruled over this little Island.
Tacklyn managed to win acquittals over Duckett and Sharples but was condemned for killing the grocers. With “only” the two murder raps, Tacklyn’s appeals against execution might have stood a chance in other circumstances. But his affiliation with Burrows, who so openly avowed the other crimes and declined to mitigate them in court, “hung like an albatross around Tacklyn’s neck.”
That wasn’t the only thing that was hanging.
Massive riots rocked Bermuda after it became known that eleventh-hour clemency bids were rejected; “Fires erupted across Bermuda,” Reuters report, “causing millions of dollars in damage as a dusk-to-dawn curfew failed to halt the racial violence.” (Per Chicago Tribune, Dec. 3, 1977) British troops were deployed to help quell the riots.
Tacklyn and Burrows were the first people executed in Bermuda in 34 years, and remain the last executed there to this date.
Because all Britain’s overseas territories in the Caribbean subsequently abolished the death penalty (Bermuda in a contentious 1999 parliamentary dispute decided by a single tiebreaking vote), Tacklyn and Burrows also hold the distinction of being the last people put to death anywhere under British law. (As distinct from the last executed in Britain.)
Also on this date
- 1644: Goodwife Cornish
- 1721: Jean-Pierre Balagny, Cartouche lieutenant
- 1715: Four Jacobites including George Lockhart's brother
- 1938: Robert Lee Cannon and Albert Kessell, the first gassed in California
- 1859: John Brown's body starts a-moulderin' in the grave
- 2005: Van Tuong Nguyen
Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,Notable Participants,Occupation and Colonialism,Power,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Terrorists