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Tempers Flare at Ferry Dock Over I.D. Requirement

July 15, 2005 – A man was hospitalized Friday after being clubbed and restrained by security guards at the Red Hook ferry dock.
A caller to Radio One early Friday morning initially said a man had been shot at the East End marine terminal. However, the V.I. Port Authority issued a release late Friday afternoon to offer an official version of the event, stating that "No one was shot during an incident between a passenger and Virgin Islands Port Authority security."
The release said the unidentified man was insisting on boarding a barge without showing proper identification, and when not allowed to board, he started to throw stones at the security guards.
On Monday Lt. Chris Gagnon of the St. Thomas office of the U.S. Coast Guard had told the Source that barges were exempt from the identification requirement implemented locally immediately following the raised alert level after the London bombings. (See "Passenger Ferry ID Requirements Raising Ire and Questions".)
Gagnon said the barges, which carry vehicles between the islands, were exempt because they didn't carry more than 150 passengers. Carol Henneman, Port Authority executive assistant, said Friday night that had changed.
She said as passengers began to realize they had to show ID on the ferries, they began to board the barges instead. So, the Port Authority was forced to start requiring passengers on the barges to show identification, too.
She said the man was not in a vehicle. "He just walked onto the barge."
The release said during the "process of restraining the passenger, he received some injuries."
However, an informed source said the victim was hit with a baton. Henneman said it wasn't really a baton; she said is was an asp, which she said is metal and "not as heavy as what they would call a night stick." She said when folded up the stick is six to eight inches long, a bit longer when fully extended.
When asked if being hit with the asp is what caused the man's injuries, Henneman said, "Not only was he hit, but they had to restrain him."
Henneman verified that it was a Port Authority security guard who fired the warning shot. She added that the guard is also a policeman.
The extent of the man's injuries are unknown.
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