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HomeNewsArchivesMarch in Support of Fretts Scheduled for St. John

March in Support of Fretts Scheduled for St. John

Sept. 22, 2005 – Several groups and individuals from St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John are organizing a protest march on St. John on Oct. 1. According to organizers, the protest is intended to "show solidarity for the Frett family."
"We are coming to demand answers and put pressure on law enforcement to be more engaging to the community," Dr. Chenzira Kherishetapheru, one of the organizers of the protest march, said Thursday. Kherishetapheru said she expects the protest to be peaceful. "We are respectfully asking that anyone who is counterproductive not to attend the protest," she said. "We are within our civil and constitutional rights."
On Aug. 30, news spread around the islands that a St. John woman had been kidnapped, raped and assaulted. The woman, later identified as Esther Frett, had previously been the victim of alleged hate crimes. Someone had written racial epithets on the fence of the house she shares her husband, Jerry. There were also several drawings left on their car of a hangman's noose and stick figures of a woman. (See "FBI Called in to Investigate Possible Hate Crime").
Frett is the proprietor of House of Dolls, located in Meada's Plaza in Cruz Bay. In May, she was spotlighted in the Source's weekly @Work series. (See "@Work: House of Dolls").
According to Frett, the problems started around April 2003 between her and another storeowner. In June, the storeowner, who rents two other stores at Meada's Plaza, allegedly shoved Frett while in the vicinity of her store. The storeowner was arrested, but that was not the end of the problems.
A recent release from "We the People for Justice on Contract Day," the name of the individuals and organizers of the protest, reported that costs associated with the charter boat scheduled to travel to St. John were being met "with the assistance of" Sen. Celestino White Sr.
"Contract Day" is observed on Oct. 1 in the territory. Indentured servants working under the constraints of the Provisional Labor Act were allowed one day a year to visit other plantations or sign on with new employers. The provision was enacted one year after African slaves rebelled against the Danish government and were granted their freedom. The workers endured this servitude for 30 years until 1878, when they staged an uprising later known as the "Fireburn." The revolt destroyed close to 70 estates, and several lives were lost. The Labor Act was repealed one year later.
Police Commissioner Elton Lewis, in a press release on Wednesday, said he met with organizers of the protests and "expects permits will be issued for the march." Lewis said he is satisfied that the protesters "intend to operate within the parameters of the law." He added that the VIPD would closely "monitor the events" and "maintain good order."
Kherishetapheru said she was contacted by people on St. John "asking for help" with the situation. "There were pleas for help" from St. John residents on Mario Moorhead's radio program, Kherishetapheru said. Moorhead has a daily talk show on WRRA, located in Castle Coakley, St. Croix.
Kherishetapheru said she visited the Fretts on St. John recently. "I went to offer counseling and support after their experiences. I am confident that the family has been violated and had a horrific experience," she said. Kherishetapheru practices psychotherapy and naturopathic counseling.
Afreekan Southwell is one of the protest organizers from St. Thomas. Southwell is a talk show host on WSTA and operates Strength to Strength, a cultural center located at the bottom of Fire Burn Hill. "This is not a St. John problem; it is a Virgin Islands problem," Southwell said. He said residents of St. John reached out for help from St. Thomas and St. Croix. He said the march would be peaceful, but that the protesters are "trying to get results.
"I am just looking into the past and toward the future. We have to make a decision on where we are headed," Southwell said.
At a police press conference Sept. 13, Commissioner Lewis said "significant progress" had been made in the investigation. At that time, Lewis said the investigation would be concluded "relatively soon" but gave no timetable or specifics. (See "Lewis Reveals Little on Investigation into Hate Crimes")
You can read and contribute to the community's reaction to the tensions on St. John by visiting the Source open forum.

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