No Information on Alleged 2005 Hate Crimes After Six Months

After more than six months, there is still no update from federal or local law enforcement officials concerning the explosive events that threatened to rip Love City apart this past summer.

On June 20, a Cruz Bay businesswoman and her husband reported they found graffiti containing racial slurs scrawled on their business and the front gate of their East End waterfront home.

The same businesswoman reported she was raped and left bound and gagged on a beach at Breeket’s Bay on the island’s East End at the end of August.

Suspected Arsons
In the wake of the alleged violence, two suspected arsons targeting a neighboring business owner, destroyed his vehicle and retail store.

A lack of information about the case prompted an Oct. 1 “Unity Day Rally” in Cruz Bay which drew St. Thomas, St. Croix and Tortola residents to Love City. A vocal St. Croix-based ad hoc group, calling themselves “We the People for Justice,” stayed on St. John for more than a week and staged numerous “sit-ins” at various Cruz Bay restaurants protesting the lack of action on the investigations into the alleged incidents.

After three months of no information, the New York-based Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) got involved in November.

CORE Gets Involved
CORE’s national chairman, St. Croix-native Roy Innis, said that he would conduct his own investigation into the alleged incidents.

“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, in a November interview with the St. John Tradewinds.

In that interview, Innis drew similarities between the infamous Tawana Brawley case and the St. John incidents, and said that the alleged East End rape did not “meet the common sense test.”

“People seem to have a will or a desire to believe, even though it doesn’t meet the common sense test to believe everything in this case,” Innis said in the November interview.

Despite Innis’ assurance that he would look into the matter, he has not returned repeated calls from the St. John Tradewinds. CORE is not the only organization remaining mum on the summer incidents that occurred on St. John. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has repeatedly refused to comment on the case.

“We have no comment, and no update at this time,” said Harry Rodriguez, spokesperson for the FBI’s San Juan division. “I have no idea when more information will be available.”

Numerous St. John Tradewinds phone calls to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ special agent Jamie Higgins have gone unreturned.

U.S.V.I. authorities, including the V.I. Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, contend the matter is still in federal hands, and have released no comment.

Shortly after the alleged crimes occurred, a few V.I. Senators were quick to dub the incidents “hate crimes.” These same legislators have remained mum on this issue lately as well.

Although various rumors have spread across the territory, there have been no arrests or new information shared with the public.

One Unrelated Arrest
Robert Sells is the only person charged with a crime, although he was not arrested in connection with the graffiti or alleged rape.

Sells was arrested in a citizen’s arrest, stemming from an incident that occurred in early June, in which a neighboring business owner—the same woman who reported the racially-motivated graffiti and alleged rape—said he “bumped into her, pushing her slightly, causing her to become off balance,” according to the V.I.P.D. report, which was distributed at the October Unity Day Rally.

Sells, who was originally charged with aggravated assault and battery because of the “bumping” incident, was also charged with intimidation and disturbing the peace. His case has not been scheduled for trial yet.