A national civil rights organization led by St. Croix native Roy Innis is launching its own probe into racially-motivated crimes reported on St. John, saying local law enforcement officials have not released information quickly enough.
In June, a Cruz Bay businesswoman and her husband reported finding racial graffiti scrawled on their business, their vehicles and the front gate of their home. The woman reported she was raped on the islands East End at the end of August.
Although several senators publicly released statements indicating the reported rape was racially motivated and the victim was battered, gagged and raped before being thrown into the ocean, neither federal nor local law enforcement officials have either confirmed or denied any specific information regarding the reported rape, and the lack of information has raised the frustration of residents.
CORE Taking Closer Look
Now, the New York-based Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is taking a closer look at the series of events on the island and calling for officials to release information.
CORE played a key role in the 1950s and 60s civil rights movement and remains closely involved with the on-going dialogue of race relations, according to Innis, the national chairman of the group.
Innis originally got interested in the St. John case by speaking with relatives on St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. Massiveness of Confusionbr> Relatives alerted me to what was in the ear and the great concern that people were expressing, said Innis. The second count that bothered me was the massiveness of the confusion surrounding the case.
Things are being lumped together and assumptions are being made without adequate facts being known, COREs national chairman continued.
One situation that really concerned me was the gullibility being expressed from many people I asked for information, said Innis. That disturbs me because it shows a will to believe; its a paranoia being expressed.
People who express racial paranoia are easily exploited, Innis added.
I have seen this in many civil rights situations, they become exploited by racial arsonists people who would pour gasoline on the fire, people with political motives, said Innis.
The reported rape on St. John is similar to an old New York case, said COREs national chairman.
Similarities with 1987 New York Case>
This is equally almost as hideous as the case that I investigated in New York State, the Tawana Brawley case, said Innis. I was the first person to expose the Tawana Brawley case as a fraud.
In 1987, Brawley was a 15-year-old girl in upstate New York who was found covered with feces and racial slurs written on her torso in charcoal. Brawley, who is black, claimed that six white law enforcement officials abducted and raped her.
Brawleys case was thrown out in 1988 when a grand jury determined her case was not credible.
I reviewed my evidence six months before the grand jury came up with the same conclusion, said Innis. It bothered me that it took that long for the grand jury to reveal the fictitiousness to the public.
Paranoia and Guilt
There are parallels between the Brawley case and the St. John reported rape case, Innis continued.
At that time people displayed the same paranoia and guilt just as there is a paranoia-guilt complex here between blacks and whites, said COREs national chairman. Because of the race relations in the U.S. going back centuries, and even though we went through one of the greatest revolutions during the Civil Rights Movement, we are left with a guilt complex and paranoia syndrome.
There is guilt on the part of whites to believe what they are told and paranoia on the part of blacks because of the psychological effects of the history of slavery, said Innis.
One of the major problems with the reported racially motivated crimes on St. John is the lack of information from law enforcement officials, according to COREs national chairman.
Release of Information Necessary
I am very critical of the law enforcement, the same mistake was made in New York with the Tawana Brawley case, said Innis. They knew in three months that the Brawley case was a fraud and they could have revealed some information to allay apprehension in the public.
Backlash in the community stems from a lack of information not from revealing what some people dont want to hear, Innis added.
Backlash comes from rumors, backlash comes from a lack of information, said Innis. There is a mistake being made the public needs to know the facts.
The quicker the flow of good information the better, not the opposite, he added.
When things are questionable on the surface, law enforcement officials should not give the impression that they are legitimate, COREs national chairman continued.
People seem to have a will or a desire to believe even though it doesnt meet the common sense test to believe everything in this case, said Innis.
V.I. residents need to understand the structure of their government, Innis said.
I am concerned about the inability of the people in the V.I. to understand the structure of their government and understand that the KKK is a bunch of cowards, said Innis.
They (KKK) operate when they are the majority, when they are the governors, the mayors, the police, the authority they dont operate where the native people are the government, where the native people are the police and the prosecutors, the people in power, Innis continued.
Gathering Info First
COREs first approach in their probe of the reported August rape will be to gather information.
My first approach is to gather information from law enforcement and public officials, said Innis. I intend to try hard to encourage local officials to reveal what they know to the public as quickly as possible; I will try to make heads or tails of what is going on.
Although he may be stonewalled Innis said that he has to give local and federal officials the chance to cooperate and release information.
I will try to talk with anyone who might have some information and impress on them to reveal information as quickly as possible, said Innis.
The release of information aids racial calm, COREs national chairman added.
It mitigates against racial calm to hold on to information, said Innis. When it comes to criminal investigations, its a different story. But with racial issues, the public can face the truth. What they cant have is a lack of information.