Aug. 6, 2002 – A smattering of St. John residents plus a few visitors gathered Tuesday night in Cruz Bay Park for the annual Night Out Against Drugs, Crime and Violence.
While St. John has far less crime than St. Thomas and St. Croix, it does have its share of burglaries and the occasional robbery and assault. Drugs are a problem.
"Crime is on the rise. Violence is on the rise. This is the time of the year to rally citizens to help stem violence and crime," Harry Daniel, St. John Community Foundation president, said.
The Community Foundation organized the evening in the park. Those who turned out were invited to take their turn at the karaoke microphone, and some people got up and danced. A dance contest was scheduled and music was provided by St. John's own Cool Session.
"We came out for Cool Session," said Kadigia Ferdinand, 14, who was strolling around the park with her friends Keisha Riviere, 13, and Delrise Stevens, 16.
About a half dozen St. John police officers were on hand to meet and greet the members of the community. Officer Bridget Conow, special assistant to Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill, said they were handing out fish-shaped flashlights to children who introduced themselves to the officers. "We're here for public relations," Conow said.
St. Thomas resident Daphne Gumbs, who drew lots of applause with her karaoke rendition, said she thought it was good for the community to join forces for a rally of this sort.
"You have to be careful, because there's always crime around," she noted. "But on St. John, it's low."
Sharon Coldron made the trip from Coral Bay in the hope of meeting up with some politicians. "I came in to drum up support for an APC for Coral Bay," she said, speaking of the Area of Particular Concern environmental designation now under discussion for the Coral Bay area.
Coldron was disappointed to find no elected officials in attendance. Aubrey Bridgewater was there representing Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd. Craig Barshinger, a candidate challenging Liburd for the senator-at-large seat, was chatting up everyone in sight, as usual. Daniel, who is running for the same position, didn't appear to be doing any politicking.
Daniel observed that St. John residents often don't come out for events such as Tuesday night's gathering. Carole DeSenne, Community Foundation executive director, was philosophical: "If people don't come, we can't do anything about it."
Throughout the United States, Night Out week is being observed Aug. 1-10. Locally, the event comes under the auspices of the Law Enforcement Planning Commission.
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