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HomeNewsArchivesGovernor Joins March Honoring Domestic-Violence Victims

Governor Joins March Honoring Domestic-Violence Victims

Oct. 30, 2008 — As the sun sank into the sea Thursday off Frederiksted, a silent candlelight march honored victims of domestic violence, with participants slowly making their way from the fish market to the clock tower.
Along the way a lone hand bell rang out every nine seconds, marking the death nationwide of someone who is a victim of domestic violence. The bell rang approximately 100 times along the six blocks of Strand Street to the clock tower in Buddhoe Park.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. led the march, carrying a dark purple flowered wreath.
"It is sad to be here," deJongh said. "But tonight is the chance to dedicate and honor victims. We are here to say we won't accept anyone messing with our quality of life."
"This is our 27th march, and this is the first time a governor has joined us," said Clema Lewis, co-director of the Women's Coalition. "This says a lot for this administration. As the governor says, we ain't taking it."
The Women's Coalition sponsored the "Take Back the Night" march and rally attended by 166 men, women and children taking a stand against violence. The count was taken as all those attending held hands in a circle shouting out their numerical order.
"We celebrate those who got out and survived," Lewis said. "We're saying to criminals we're taking back the night. We're not afraid to be out at night."
Lewis began the rally with a prayer for peace.
"We pray for peace and pray one day we will be violence-free," Lewis said.
Every year the coalition dedicates the night to two victims. The victims honored this year were Corine Rodgers, 22, who died in 1991, and Maria Santos, 28, who died in 2001.
Advocates, coalition employees and volunteers placed 43 pairs of shoes — one for each St. Croix victim — on the steps of the clock tower as names of women, men and children were read. Each pair of shoes represented a person from a list compiled over 25 years.
Lewis and Emily Martin, coalition counselor, presented awards for unsung "Sheroes and Heroes." This year the awards went to medical and education professionals who serve as advocates for victims of domestic violence.
Awards went to Dr. Anne Treasure and Dr. Michele Berkeley, who have both worked as victims' advocates.
"We are here for victims to try to help them through their situation," Berkeley said. "We don't want victims to be afraid to speak out."
Bruce Ray, assistant professor of physical education at the University of the Virgin Islands, got a Hero Award for educating students about healthy relationships. Frederik A. Morton, founder of the "Tempo a Caribbean" music television show, got a Hero Award for his efforts in the media to address and stamp out violence. Warren Jaskolka, manager of Dominos Pizza, got an award for donating food when needed.
Valerie Pigott read her original and very emotional poem entitled "Men Will be Men." The ceremony ended with everyone singing "One Love" by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
"This was very emotional for me, because I had two friends who were victims," said Samuel Sanes, senatorial candidate. "I would love to see the day when the Women's Coalition is out of business due to the lack of business."
Since 1981 the Women's Coalition of St. Croix has offered services to victims of rape, domestic violence, child sexual assault and other crimes. For more information about the Women's Coalition, visit wcstx.com or call 773-9272.
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