CEO Says Kragel ‘No Longer Employed’ at WAPA

WAPA CEO Lawrence Kupfer in August testifying before the Senate Finance Committee. (File photo)
WAPA CEO Lawrence Kupfer in 2018 file photo.

Following an internal review completed after its board met in executive session Monday, the V.I. Water and Power Authority confirmed Tuesday night that deputy legal counsel, Mark Kragel, is no longer employed by the utility.

While the statement from WAPA Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Kupfer does not mention Kragel by name, it does refer to the “individual responsible for social media posts this weekend.” Kragel has come under fire in the community for posts to Facebook in which he describes Black Lives Matter as a “domestic terrorist organization” and ends with a profane dismissal of the group. The statements were deleted, but screenshots have been posted by residents on personal pages and in local networking forums such as What’s Going on St. Thomas.

Almost immediately, online petitions calling for Kragel’s resignation began circulating among the community, with one accumulating more than 1,000 signatures in just a matter of days. WAPA itself issued two statements on Saturday morning, including an initial one from board chair Anthony D. Thomas which said, “it goes without saying that this behavior will not be tolerated by leaders of this organization, and I dare say all those in our community who value and respect people equally.”

Protesters outside WAPA’s St. Croix office just hours before the announcement also called for Kragel’s ouster.

In the statement released Tuesday evening, Kupfer said, “I strongly condemn any action, statement, post, or other form of conduct that seeks to undermine or denigrate the nationwide effort to end racism in policing and in our society generally. Equally importantly, WAPA denounces any actions that would lead its employees, customers, and other stakeholders to question the authority’s firm and steadfast commitment to serving and representing the entire Virgin Islands community and providing opportunities for present and future generations. WAPA fully supports all efforts to eradicate racism in this country and going forward, our leadership team will be working to explore other ways in which to reinforce and foster an environment of inclusivity and sensitivity that is consistent with the authority’s fundamental mission and values.”

According to the statement, Kupfer communicated with WAPA’s employees Monday, and thanked them and the V.I. community for “their patience in allowing the authority to address these matters in accordance with its internal processes.”