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HomeNewsArchivesPROTESTERS MARCH ON F’STED SENATE CHAMBERS

PROTESTERS MARCH ON F’STED SENATE CHAMBERS

More than 100 raucous protesters marched on the Legislature in Frederiksted Thursday to voice their displeasure with the government.
The People’s March was organized to protest the Beal-V.I. government land exchange at Great Pond Bay; Gov. Charles Turnbull’s proposal to cut government departments by 15 percent and the lack of accountability in government overall, said Terrence "Positive" Nelson, president of Our Virgin Islands Labor Union.
Under a relentless sun, protesters began at the top of King Street and walked to the Senate chamber chanting slogans that questioned issues such as the Beal land swap. Once at the Senate building, where the Finance Committee was conducting budget hearings, the group moved into the chambers to be heard by the senators present.
"With the Beal issue, you’re causing the community to act against one another," said Nadia Camacho.
Another speaker asked why Turnbull could travel to Texas to meet with Andrew Beal but not with constituents on St. Croix who are opposed to the land swap. The swap would give Beal 14.5 acres of public land at Great Pond Bay for two parcels elsewhere on the island. The company needs the land, in addition to approximately 250 acres it has an option on at Great Pond, in order to build its rocket assembly plant and world headquarters.
The Legislature, however, must ratify the land exchange agreement. But the issue has yet to be heard. In the presence of the protesters, Sens. Anne Golden, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Gregory Bennerson, Norman Jn Baptiste and Donald "Ducks" Cole said they wouldn’t support the swap.
"If there was consensus, it would have been voted on," said Golden. "There is no support for the swap."
Noting the orderly manner in which the protesters marched, Jessica Tutein Molenaar said that if the land exchange was ratified future protests would be different.
"If Beal goes to Great Pond, the next march won’t be peaceful," she said.
Meanwhile, protester Lucy Jackson called the proposed cuts in government "pennywise but pound foolish."
Nelson said the strategy to cut salaries of classified workers in the executive branch was unacceptable, especially since many haven’t seen raises in a decade.
"You don’t cut from the bottom, you cut from the top," said Paul "General" Payne.
Protesters requested a meeting with Turnbull, Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James, and the entire Senate to discuss a variety of issues.

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