Two men convicted of political murders were hanged at dawn today after a night of violent protests by black youths.
Erskine Burrows, 33, and Larry Tacklyn, 25, were members of a now defunct radical group called the Black Beret Cadres. Both had been accused of killing Gov. Sir Richard Sharples and his aides de camp Capt. Hugh Sayers in 1973 as well as three earlier murders.
Burrows was convicted of all charges.Tacklyn was convicted of the killing of two supermarket executives during a holdup in 1973.
The disorders set off by the executions caused an estimated $2 million damage in the slums on the hillsides overlooking Hamilton's harbor. The city was calm today, but a dusk-to-dawn curfew was ordered to guard against further rioting. Riot police and troops were put on alert.
The curfew affected the many tourists visiting this Atlantic island as well as the 55,000 residents.
At the same time young blacks were protesting the executions, fire swept the upper floor of the luxury Southampton Princess Hotel, killing two American teen-agers and a Bermudan engineer, officials said. They said the blaze was caused by an electrical short and was not related to the rioting.
Observers said the cause of Burrow and Tacklyn had stirred the black youths because both condemned men were political radicals, and because the predominantly black opposition Progressive Labor Party had led a nonviolent campaign to commute their sentences.
Bermuda is a self-governing British colony. Although Britain has abolished the death penalty, Bermuda has not. The British government denied an appeal for clemency for the two men, but British Foreign Secretary David Owen suggested that the executions be called off.
Officials said about 500 youths rioted during the night, setting fire to stores, a school, government offices, a liquor warehouse and other buildings. The entire police force of 380 men bolstered by 80 reserves fought the rioters with batons and tear gas.
Police said the rioting was largely confined to poor black neighborhoods. Island residents said youths in the crowded black slums have been increasingly volatile in recent years, and several incidents have touched off similar disorders.
Sharples, 56, and Sayers, 25, were shot to death as they walked Sharples' dog on the grounds of the governor's residences.
The murders came six months after the killing of Police Chief George Duckett. Burrows was also convicted of that murder.