Activist calls on Rangers to ‘protect legacy’

A sports club affected by violence should attract more older people to help combat repeated disturbances, a community activist said yesterday.

Gina Spence, of charity Gina Spence Productions, added that Southampton Rangers should also sign up other community organisations in an attempt to stem trouble.

She said: “There are tons of community groups in that area — the club is in the heart of the parish where there are a lot of people, restaurants, churches, businesses.

“If the club tried to expand its outreach and there was a broader approach, it would help to change the situation.”

She told the Rangers management: “Take a look at your base. Perhaps you need to call in your grandfathers and all the uncles. Rally and get people interested in helping and supporting you.”

Ms Spence was speaking after a man was stabbed last Sunday night as the club celebrated its football team’s victory over Somerset Eagles to claim the First Division title and another man was slashed with a bottle two nights earlier.

She said: “Many great men and women have come through the ranks of the Rangers club — what do you say to their legacy? Give it your best. Protect that legacy.”

Ms Spence and Desmond Crockwell, an anti-violence activist, earlier said that the club had a good reputation for community work, but that the executive board could do more to combat violence that has plagued the club in recent years.

She said: “We have to take a more proactive approach.”

“Rangers had won the game so there was a bigger crowd by default, but I would encourage the club to take as many precautions as possible.”

Ms Spence added: “People need to hear that they are doing something to protect patrons and bystanders.

“You don’t want to over-police it, but you need to make your patrons feel protected. It’s a fine balance.

She said: “There truly has to be a different approach when so many things happen on the premises. You need to make a profound statement to the community and it will require PR.”

Mr Crockwell, the chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, added: “Sunday was a huge event which leads to celebration which leads to alcohol and that can lead to anger and frustration.

“Surveillance is necessary; this is a hotspot. Surveillance, cameras and physical surveillance, lessens the potential and it helps identify the culprit and makes people think twice.

He added a national “anti-violence force” made up of police officers and Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers should be formed.

Mr Crockwell said that if the club showed that it had made sufficient effort to end violence, it could attract investment from international businesses.

He added: “I want to add that these young men need to take responsibility for themselves and realise that their actions impact the whole country including our young children.”

Zane DeSilva, the area MP, said: “It upsets me that the perpetrators have no regard for law and order.

“My message is to them if you want to carry on with this activity, you will get punished to the full extent of the law.”