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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Runners Make Statement Against Violence

Dear Source,
On Sunday, May 23, Mothers Against Guns, Inc. and Jason Carroll Memorial Fund, Inc. will gather at 4:30 p.m. at the Coast Guard dock to host a two-mile run. This run is open to walkers and joggers and will benefit programs of the organizations, including a scholarship fund for V. I. youngsters.
We are holding this run because we want to bring a stop to the violence that has become common in our community. It does not have to be this way. We can put a stop to the rising tide of violence if we first acknowledge that we have a problem.
Is there any question that there is a problem? Look first at the statistics. The United States leads the world in many things, but it has the dubious distinction of being first in the world in the different gun violence categories. In the United States deaths from firearm average 11.3 deaths per 100,000 individuals. For black males, the rate is a staggering 41.6 per 100,000. In contrast, the rates in Western European countries range from 0.1 to 0.5 per 100,000. The United States’ firearm death rate for young males is more than five times the rate of Canada, its next-door neighbor.
The difference in the gun crime statistics between the United States and Canada is startling, and at first look, unexplainable. The difference is between two cultures, one that is trigger-happy, and the other that is not.
Let us face the fact. The culture of the United States breeds gun violence. I do not have a problem with those individuals who believe they should have a gun for sporting purposes, or to protect their businesses and homes and follow the law in registering these weapons. I do have a problem with those who illegally possess firearms, or use a gun as a symbol of or to further a violent life style.
The Virgin Islands seems to be following the continental United States in its gun crimes statistics and attitude to firearms. We had 29 homicides in the Virgin Islands last year, most of them the result of firearm violence. Thus far, this year, we have already had 13 deaths, again mainly attributable to guns.
Even worse than the statistics is the affect on the quality of life in the Virgin Islands for residents. It is not just the violence in our community that is disturbing. It is the unapologetic nature of the violence, the fact that it has no bounds and that everybody is vulnerable. All we need to do is look at the headlines and observe what is happening in the community to confirm this.
First item – Several young men wearing high school uniforms stab a man repeatedly across the street from a high school in St. Thomas. The fact that the victim is carrying a baby in his arms does not deter the men.
Second item — A young man brings a gun to school to threaten another student to whom he says: "Who has mouth now?" The thing that is unusual about this case is that it involves Elementary School students.
Third item — It has become very popular for young men to wear tee shirts with automatic weapons on them. They display these pictures defiantly, as the symbol of some sort of misplaced machismo lifestyle.
The fact that there is a problem in this community with violent crime is evident to those with their eyes open. The first step is to acknowledge that we have a problem, and that it is one that can be addressed and solved. Once we have done that, and put our minds to it, we are a community of intelligent people who can solve any problem.
Let us then acknowledge the problem, and then let us get to solutions.
The Run to Stop Gun Violence is only a small step towards a solution to this problem, but it will be a consciousness-raising experience for those who participate. This is why the two organizations are hosting the two-mile Run. May 23, 2004 is the fourth anniversary of my son Jason’s death as a result of gunfire. Jason had just finished his first year at the University of the Virgin Islands, and was looking for a job on the day that he was killed. See Jason He had written several essays decrying gun violence, one of which was given honorable mention by Sen. Lorraine Berry. Gov. Turnbull has issued a proclamation declaring this day as Mothers Against Guns Day and Jason Carroll Memorial Day and has asked that Virgin Islanders use this event to reflect on eliminating gun violence and that they participate in the events planned for this day. You do not have to have experienced violence directly to be motivated to stop it. Do not wait until you have to bury a friend or family member before becoming involved.
The fee for entry before the day of the Run is $3 for children under 18 and $8 for adults 18 and over. On the day of the Run, registration will start at 3:30 p.m. at the Coast Guard dock, and will cost $5 and $10, respectively. The first 300 finishers will receive t-shirts and trophies will be given to the top finishers, male and female, in four age categories (12 and under, 13 to 15, 16 to 19 and 20 and over), to the oldest and youngest participants and to the school with the most participants.
We are hoping that those who participate in the Run are tired of the violence, and will use the Run to say "enough is enough." We are asking the young people who participate in this event to sign a pledge against gun violence as part of the entry, and we will give a certificate to each school that participates. We would like to have the maximum participation of the community, and particularly young people. The scholarship will be awarded to a deserving V. I. resident who demonstrates that he or she is against violence.
Together, we can acknowledge that violence is a problem that can be solved and together, we can find a solution. Please come out and run, walk and jog with us on Sunday afternoon, May 23 on the Waterfront at the Coast Guard dock.

James Carroll III
St. Thomas

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