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Monday, May 27, 2024


May 23, 2002 – Standing Thursday evening at the spot where her 19-year-old son, Jason, was shot and killed two years earlier, Celia Carroll led a prayer vigil for him and for all young Virgin Islanders who have been victims of violence.
The normal cacophony of Main Street fell silent in the slowly fading light as Carroll told a solemn crowd of about 35 persons about losing her son.
"When Jason was killed, God was the only one I could turn to," she said. "You can't raise your child by yourself. You have to ask, what is my purpose?"
That purpose, she said, is "love."
"Teach your children to say 'I'm sorry,' to say 'forgive me,' to say 'I love you.' They are hungry for love," she said, pleading for an end to the violence that recently has shocked the community.
Pastor Toi Barbel-Smith, who a week ago led a similar prayer vigil on Garden Street, led the crowd in prayer. The Garden Street gathering was for Dariel Wheatley, 41, a mother of five who was shot and killed on the street on Mother's Day. Police say she was an unintended victim of a drive-by shooting. That same Sunday, two young men were shot and killed in two other separate incidents on St. Thomas.
Before and after the vigil Thursday, Virgin Islands bandanas that Carroll markets commercially were available for purchase, with all of the money to be donated to Wheatley's children.
Pastor Oral Hazell told those gathered Thursday evening, "We are taking back the streets, Main Street and Garden Street." He urged the community to take action to stop the violence.
Jason's father is first assistant U.S. Attorney James Carroll. Among those at the vigil were several members of the legal community, including attorneys Adriane J. Dudley, Archie Jennings and Judith Bourne, who wanted it known that she was honoring Jason's memory not as a Christian, but as a Buddhist. "I think it's important to point out the principles of the two beliefs are similar," she said.
A number of children were present, too. They joined hands with adults, holding hands, heads bowed, joining in song. With the strains of "Bind Us Together, Lord" echoing in the light night breeze, it was a far different Main Street than it had been an hour before.

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