Jan. 9, 2003 – Demonstrations in protest of substantial raises approved by the 24th Legislature for the territory's top elected officials have attained the status of public event, if procedures announced Thursday by the Police Department are any indication.
St. Thomas Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty put out a press release that he described as "an advisory for all participating protest groups who are planning demonstrations for the Jan. 13 swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Legislature's senators and Gov. Charles Turnbull's State of the Territory speech."
The advisory states that "permits for demonstrators" will be issued between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday at Carty's office on the second floor of the Zone A Command headquarters in the Alexander A. Farrelly Justice Complex. "All requests for permits must be submitted in writing," it says.
The release also lists protocols to be observed by protesters.
During the Senate swearing-in ceremony on Monday morning at the Legislature Building, "all streets north, south and east" of Emancipation Garden will be closed to motor vehicles, including Kirke Gade, the block-long street that connects Fort Christian Museum and Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. The governor's address is to take place at 7 p.m., also in the Senate chambers. Carty said the street closings will take place only in the morning.
Carty said demonstrators should:
– Stay behind barricades that will be in place at Emancipation Garden and the Legislature Building grounds.
– Not try to impede the flow of traffic at either site.
– Keep marches and protests peaceful.
– Keep all loudspeaker devices "at a minimum tone."
– Obey instructions from police and other law-enforcement agencies.
Protests have taken place on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix this week at events having to do with the inauguration of Turnbull and Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards. Turnbull proposed salary hikes of $55,000 for himself and $40,000 for the lieutenant governor, and the senators on Dec. 23 approved those plus raises of $20,000 for themselves. The bill is now on the governor's desk; he has until Tuesday to sign it, veto it in whole or in part, or let it become law without his signature.
On Monday, during the inaugural ceremony in Emancipation Garden on St. Thomas, members of the American Federation of Teachers and others took part in a march outside the garden. The only violence that has occurred at any demonstration this week took place here — a clash between police and at least one teacher and her husband, who went to assist her. Meanwhile, four individuals carrying signs of protest were ordered to leave the garden.
On Tuesday, about a dozen placard-carrying individuals demonstrated outside the Battery on St. John as those attending a public reception there passed by.
And on Wednesday, about 300 persons chanted, shouted, drummed and otherwise demonstrated throughout a post-inaugural program in Buddhoe Park in Frederiksted, and a number of persons also protested outside Government House in Christiansted during a public reception there later in the day.
Meanwhile, a new grassroots group on St. Thomas, Citizens for Fiscally Responsible Government, decided at a meeting on Tuesday evening to picket the State of the Territory address. The group, which is open to anyone wishing to participate, is meeting again at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Palms Court Harborview Hotel to finalize plans.
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