Waterfront Gathering Mourns USVI’s 2020 Murder Victims

Family Resource Center Development Director Vernon Araujo and Executive Director Anya Stuart open Friday’s ceremony. (Source photo by James Baylor)

St. Thomas’ Family Resource Center held its annual waterfront gathering Friday evening as part of the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, remembering the almost 40 Virgin Islanders who have lost their lives to violence so far this year.

A small contingent of mourners and anti-violence activists, wearing mostly red and black, attended the solemn and somber ceremony to honor victims and call attention to the ongoing violence that afflicts the territory. They were joined online by those tuning in and commenting via a Facebook live stream.

The Resource Center’s Executive Director Anya Stuart and Development Director Vernon Araujo led the ceremony.

Stuart opened with a prayer that expressed both despair for the past and hope for the future.

“We come together in peace, love, and unity … to collaborate to make this a safer place,” she said.

Then, as the victims’ names were read aloud, participants dropped red roses, one per victim, into the harbor.

A participant drops a rose into St. Thomas Harbor to commemorate one of the territory’s 2020 murder victims. (Source photo by James Baylor)

The ceremony concluded with Araujo tossing a white rose, symbolic of hope, into the water.

“Things will get better,” he said as the roses drifted away.

The upcoming month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Stuart remarked upon the community-wide effort that is needed to stop the violence and Araujo followed suit, urging, “If you see something, say something.”

Donations can be made through the Family Resource Center website or via PayPal through the organization’s email – [email protected].

Wire transfers or credit card donations can be arranged by calling Araujo at 340-626-3729.