Vocal support: Anti-Ewart Brown protesters listen to their rally call at Sessions House before marching along Parliament Street en masse to come face-to-face with Premier Dr. Ewart Brown outside the Cabinet Building. *Photos by Kageaki Smith
Vocal support: Anti-Ewart Brown protesters listen to their rally call at Sessions House before marching along Parliament Street en masse to come face-to-face with Premier Dr. Ewart Brown outside the Cabinet Building. *Photos by Kageaki Smith
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"Brown must go" was the chant echoing through Hamilton's streets yesterday afternoon as hundreds of protestors called for the Premier to step down.

They gathered at the Cabinet building to demand that Dr. Ewart Brown relinquish his role.

Furious Bermudians damned his controversial decision to bring four Guantanamo detainees to the island without any consultation as "the final straw".

The protestors were not against the four Uighur Muslims but Dr. Brown's dictatorship style of leadership.

They insisted he had lost voter confidence and that people are "disgusted, disrespected and angry".

The huge lunchtime protest saw people of all ages, races and backgrounds fill the Cabinet lawn and nearby sidewalks.

Parliament Street and Front Street were lined with people, while others stood on the rooftops of neighbouring offices.

Placards read "Brown must step down", "Dictator Brown" and "No to one man rule".

Other signs blasted his move as a "Good deed, wrong way" and claimed that "The Uighurs are a political pawn in a cynical game".

Counter-protest

More than 800 anti-Brown protesters marched from the Sessions House to Cabinet, where they came face-to-face with up to 100 of the Premier's supporters.

Their placards praised him as "A man of courage and principles".

Police were out in force to keep the peace as the opposing sides threatened to clash.

There was no violence but some of the heated vocal showdowns risked ending that way if police had not stepped in.

Dr. Brown emerged from the Cabinet building just after 1pm and headed straight through the crowd holding the hand of his wife Wanda, flanked by members of his Cabinet.

He took to the podium but the crowd did not allow him to speak for several minutes.

The Premier was forced to stand in silence and listen to the crowd booing, hissing and singing "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye".

Dr. Brown eventually took a few deep breaths, welcomed everyone and said he was delaying a meeting with the Governor at Government House to listen to the people.

He said: "I grew up in the protest era. This is nothing new to me. I have seen them larger and longer."

Janice Battersbee spoke on behalf of the people, claiming she was grateful to speak "sort-of face-to-face" as Dr. Brown was standing behind her.

He quickly moved and looked directly at her.

The Premier showed little emotion aside from the odd smirk of disagreement.

Ms. Battersbee demanded that "justice is done and democracy restored".

She raised blemishes on his career such as the attempted media gag, the "embarrassing" faith-based initiative, the "blatant disrespect" of the office of the Auditor General and the "fiasco" regarding staff at the NY tourism office.

Ms Battersbee said: "Last week Bermuda was awakened to the fact that our Premier, without the consultation of our elected officials or our Governor, as per the Bermuda Constitution, made a decision that negatively impacted our country, both foreign and domestic.

"Tax-paying voters of this country have been disrespected by our Premier time and time again. Our voices were neither heard nor welcomed.

"Mr. Premier, we are fed up, disgusted, disrespected and angry. You knocked on our doors, sat in our living rooms and discussed the issues when you wanted our vote in the General Election.

"You were not returned to power to abuse that power. You cannot push us to the rear on a whim and trample on our rights. You represent us - we don't represent you."

Ms Battersbee, a lifelong PLP supporter, claimed Dame Lois-Browne and L. Frederick Wade would be ashamed to know that the grassroots vision of the PLP was being eroded.

Urging Dr. Brown to remember what happened to his friend Michael Misick, former Premier of Turks and Caicos, she said: "The leadership of this country seems to be on a course heading towards dictatorship that the majority of Bermudians are no longer willing to tolerate.

"Premier Brown, you are not a law unto yourself. We remain committed and shall not rest until democracy has been restored to our island home."

Dr. Brown did not respond and was ushered away by police and security officers while the crowd booed and hissed.

He was bundled into the back of his waiting car but not before giving the crowd a thumbs up.

Ms Battersbee - spokesperson for the still-nameless anti-Brown committee set up on Friday - was mobbed by the crowd, who thanked, hugged and kissed her.

She works in insurance and has no background in politics other than "a strong interest in her country".

She said it was overwhelming" to see how many supporters they had.

She added: "We have shown that we can bring the community together.

"We are not against the PLP or the UBP, we just request that there is a new leader of our government.

"We'll be continuing with the same type of action."