Last night I was the sole demonstrator at the Westin Resort, which hosted Gov. Charles Turnbull's Inaugural Ball. I stood outside the gates of the Westin for an hour with a sign saying "Governor, shame on you!"
I was also part of a successful, albeit small demonstration, (which your reporter reported as being "all Caucasians"), during the day at the St. John Battery where the governor gave a party.
I would like to share my feelings with your readers.
For several weeks the main and constant conversation among St. Johnians has been the governor's raises. The overwhelming sentiment was that the raises are greedy, underhanded, irresponsible, insulting, outrageous, and shameful. I personally called dozens of people at short notice, and urged them to join me at the demonstrations. Ten people, who happened to be white, showed up during the day. During the day demonstration, and during my sole nighttime vigil, dozens of citizens, West Indian as well as statesiders, gave us the thumbs up, high five, honked in agreement, or stopped to thank us (or me) for being on the front lines.
I have been a citizen of the Virgin Islands (I gave up the right to vote in presidential elections in order to vote here) for 28 years. I suffer in the same manner that all other Virgin Islanders suffer when our elected officials ignore the will of the people and act in their own self-interest.
So why do I demonstrate and others don't? The Virgin Island people have for decades accepted the status quo and hoped and prayed that things would change for the better. I feel that they (and myself as well) have been severely demoralized by the actions of our governor and senators. People who feel this disappointed get disgusted and jaded. And in the Virgin Islands, disgusted people complain up a storm, but historically, don't demonstrate. Perhaps many of the people don't feel it is right to physically protest, but instead hope for a miracle of change of heart on the part of our Legislature. I know from my experiences, that if you don't make it happen, maybe no one else will. That is why I went to the Westin Resort knowing that I would be the sole demonstrator. (Would your reporter have reported, "Lonnie Willis, a Caucasian person, was the only protestor?")
Each of us can make a difference in his or her own way. You don't have to go on a picket line. You can fax or write the governor. Write, call or fax any senator who got your vote and who also voted for his or her own raises. Let them know how disgusted you are. Your opinions matter. Write a letter to a newspaper.
If the governor does not have a change of heart, and veto the bill, then maybe you will come out on Monday in Emancipation Park and protest these outrageous actions en masse. If we all don't tell him how we feel, how is he to know? Perhaps he'll think that only a small group of Caucasians were dissatisfied. Let's not give him the idea that most St. Johnians approve these raises.
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