Art Seizure


Obscene UK

In the absence of an ability to deal with the island's drug and general crime problems, the Bermuda police have turned their attention to addressing crime that:

is not hidden
does not run away
will not put up a fight (physical confrontation)
and in respect of which someone else can decide whether to prosecute (the DPP).

In this instance the police have descended on a local artist and seized works of art that depict nudity - something which in Bermuda must go on behind closed doors and is never admitted to.  What a bunch of hypocrites.  Do the police really have nothing better to do than demonstrate the island's inability to exist in a modern world?  Mr. Butterfield makes a good point (below), but what of other media - films and TV, no more nudity there I'm afraid, ban the Sun newspaper (page 3) from the shelves, remove all reference to sex education from school books, no more biology classes.  How very ... Victorian.

A wonderful example of how to waste police resources and create a bad impression of a police service.  Fortunately, you can bet there will be many realistic police officers who are laughing at the situation.  As for Mr Palacio, we here wish him all the very best; his work has now received far greater circulation / notoriety than he probably thought possible previously and with any luck he will be in great demand.  So is this all one big conspiracy ... someone makes a complaint, police become involved, media attention ... decide for yourselves, have the police been used again?

Personally, it matters not. I know what I like and these pictures I like.  Good luck Manuel (for more on 'obscenity, please use the link 'obscene UK, in the left margin).

June 2001 – Bermuda Sun Newspaper

A second seizure of prints by local artist Manuel Palacio. Apparently a letter will be sent to the Commissioner of Police this week raising the art community’s concern over the way the matter has been handled. Mr Palacio is President of the Bermuda Society of Arts (BSOA),

Tom Butterfield said he would be telephoning the Police Commissioner on the matter. “In terms of western iconography, there has been sex depicted since Greek and Roman times - so what are we harping on about?”

Mr. Butterfield asked. “In Bermuda’s small environment we tend to lose sight of the key issues; in this case, freedom of expression - each person has the right to expose his creative innards - as long it is not pornographic. And my question to any authority would be ‘what is pornographic about this?’ Do we find pornography in just looking at a winky? This is funny, sadly funny.

The police confirmed the seizure of the prints and said they would be returned to Mr. Palacio in due course. A file has now been prepared by the police and submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). 

A police statement read: “[We] fully recognize that involvement in ‘public morality’ cases can become emotive and are likely to attract significant community interest. What some may consider art, others may consider obscene. “The Bermuda Police Service respects the art community but will also uphold the law and abide by any direction given by the DPP, and if necessary, in this case, a court of law.”

The prints were seized by police from Mr. Palacio’s booth at Harbour Nights and first confiscated his print, Body and Soul. The image shows two nudes embracing. This week the police also seized a postcard-size image of his painting I’is, which shows a nude male.

Mr. Palacio, who showed the work on Tuesday night in King’s Square, St. George’s, without incident, was shocked at being given no reason for this week’s seizure and felt violated by the event. “I did not expect the police to take the picture without giving me a reason. I was not even told if I was breaking the law.

“At least last week they told me that someone had complained. It was the same officer who made the seizure last week, but he was not sociable this time. I asked him if there were any new [or renewed] complaints against the piece, but he would not answer.”
Mr. Palacio’s wife, Gail, also questioned the officer, who said he was acting on behalf of the Commissioner.

The police cited section 11 of the Summary Offences Act. ‘Any person, in a public place, openly exhibits any obscene print, picture or other indecent exhibition commits an offence against the act.’ Police gave him only that one page of the Act and a friend of the Palacio’s made the point that by not having provided Mr. Palacio with the full Act — there were no definitions to clarify the meaning of obscenity.

United Kingdom Human Rights Act 1998 ARTICLE 9
     1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
     2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.




To e-mail click here:


to visit click here



IMPORTANT NOTICE: has taken reasonable care in sourcing and presenting the information contained on this site, but accepts no responsibility for any financial or other loss or damage that may result from its use. is not an official or authorised Bermuda police web site.