Home News Local news Turnbull Gets No Answers on Racial Incident

Turnbull Gets No Answers on Racial Incident


Sept. 30, 2005 – Gov. Charles Turnbull got a response Friday from the office of the U.S. Attorney General, but no answers to his questions.
The governor had written Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Thursday about the need for federal investigators to make public the results of their investigation into a series of St. John incidents that some have called hate crimes.
Turnbull also spoke on Tuesday to Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Mercer on the same subject.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Bradley J. Schlozman wrote Friday that federal law and Justice Department policies prohibit the disclosure of information obtained during an investigation.
Schlozman assured Turnbull that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Civil Rights Division of his office "are all devoting substantial resources to conduct a complete, thorough and fair inquiry."
He said that when the investigation concludes, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office will review the investigative file to determine what further action may be appropriate.
"As always, we will endeavor to complete the investigation as soon as possible," Schlozman wrote.
It apparently won't be in time to provide answers to participants at a march, rally, motorcade and other events planned for this weekend and throughout the week on St. John.
The events are planned by organizations on St. John and St. Croix. The St. Croix organizers have vowed to stay on St. John until they get answers.
Turnbull's letter to Gonzales pointed out the pressing need for the federal investigators to come up with answers. He said the public is under the impression that the federal response is slow and said the foot dragging is simply unacceptable in light of current events.
"These alleged incidents have inflamed emotions in St. John and across the territory, resulting in emotional town meetings, numerous calls to local talk shows and most notable, a series of demonstrations and protest marches planned during the first week of October," the governor wrote.
He told Gonzales that the events were timed to coincide with Queen Mary Fireburn Day, which is the anniversary of a violent and bloody laborers' uprising for improved working conditions. It began on Oct. 1, 1878.
"The potential for violent episodes during these demonstrations are real and cannot be ignored by those of us who are responsible for maintaining law and order and social tranquility," Turnbull wrote.
The current situation began when someone on June 20 wrote racial epithets on Esther and Jerry Fretts' car parked at their East End home. The Fretts are black.
On Aug. 29, Frett reported she was raped near her home.
Tension escalated at a meeting Aug. 30 called to discuss V.I. Water and Power Authority issues and at a meeting Aug. 31, where federal and local law enforcement officials refused to comment on the specifics of their investigations into the racial epithets and the alleged rape.
Early on Sept. 1, someone set Bob Sells' Jeep on fire in front of his Close Reach Imports store at Meada's Mall in Cruz Bay. On Sept. 2, the store went up in flames. Arson is suspected in both cases. Sells is white.
Frett, until June, rented the store upstairs from Close Reach Imports for her House of Dolls. Following numerous confrontations between the two, Sells was arrested June 3 in connection with an assault on Frett. That case is still pending.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here