Nov. 21, 2002 – Drake's Seat vendor Hector Rios was arrested on Wednesday and charged with disobeying a lawful order.
Rios was one of the vendors who had fought for months, even filing a lawsuit, to keep his $75-a-month spot at the popular Magens Bay overlook.
But in April 2001 District Judge Thomas K. Moore upheld the V.I. government in its efforts to remove the vendors from the spot, which the government said was private property. (See "No legal basis for vendors at Drake's Seat". )
At the time of Moore's opinion the property was owned by Christine Wheaton. It was argued by her representatives that the Wheaton estate had provided an easement to the V.I. Government to use the spot provided that no commercial activity took place at the site.
In July 2002 the property extending from Magens Bay to the Drake's Seat overlook was acquired from the Wheaton estate in a joint effort by the Nature Conservancy and the V.I. government. The terms of the acquisition prohibit any commercial activity at Drake's Seat or anywhere on the 318 acres that have been set aside around and above Magens Bay for use as a nature preserve and wildlife refuge. (See "From Drake's Seat to beach now protected land".)
But Rios, despite Moore's opinion and several orders to vacate the overlook, has continued to park at the site regularly and quietly sell his wares, mostly T-shirts, from the back of his Jeep Cherokee. The Drake's Seat overlook is a regular stop on island tours conducted by taxi drivers, making it an attractive spot for vendors.
Although there were protests at the site last summer by four of the displaced vendors, Rios is the only one still seeking to do business there. The others relocated to the nearby Skyline Drive overlook facing downtown Charlotte Amalie or to the Vendors Plaza in town, or "disappeared," according to Sgt. Annette Raimer, police spokeswoman.
According to Raimer, Rios has vowed to continue selling at the Drake's Seat site "until justice is done."
The lawsuit filed last year seeks $5 million in damages to the vendors.
According to a lawyer in the Attorney General's Office, the suit was argued in 3rd Circuit Court on Nov. 13, and as yet no decision has been rendered.
A release from Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty said Rios was arrested at 1:49 p.m. on Wednesday and his bail was set at $1,500.
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