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Gov’t blasted amid claims it shuns peace concert

The only politician noticed at the Stop The Crime concert last evening, Andrew Fahie. Here, he is speaking with Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s Office David Archer, who is on study leave.

By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff

The sincerity of the National Democratic Party government’s spoken abhorrence towards crime is again being questioned; this after no member of the administration was seen at a major event hosted yesterday to promulgate an anti-crime stance in the territory reeling from six murders so far this year.

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie was the only politician BVI News Online saw at the widely publicized ‘Stop The Crime’ concert hosted at Tortola Pier Park by Tortola Central Lions Club and a throng of musicians from across the British Virgin Islands.

The noticeable absence of Government members sent tongues wagging in private. But it was the plain-spoken Joycelyn ‘Sistah Joyce’ Searles who placed the observation centre-stage before she reeled off some original Reggae songs in the sparsely patroned venue that required no entry fee.

The artiste, who traveled across the waters from Virgin Gorda to perform voluntarily here, declared that she was hurt by the noticeable absence of Government members.

“I am seeing Mr Andrew Fahie alone. I don’t care who carry it back to who; you all know who I is already. If our leaders in the back hiding, please forgive me. But I’ve not seen them here for what and why we are here. That means they are either sick, dead – and I know they aren’t dead, or they don’t care about community; and that is sad.”

“Them leaders ain’t going to escape it (judgment) either because they come talking love when they ain’t got no love. They have no love for us. Otherwise they would be right here; right here for stopping the crime,” Sistah Joyce said.

She added that – unlike some persons – she does not fear being victimized for speaking out about the virtual lack of support from the territory’s political leaders.

“When I go to them for sponsor for Calypso show, they ain’t have to give me; somebody else going to give me,” Sistah Joyce continued. “I don’t care if you (patrons) all get vex. When I come off the stage, come to me and tell me; don’t do it in the blogs where I can’t see you name or know who you is blogging.”

They (politicians) come talking love when they ain’t got no love” – Sistah Joyce

The government headed by Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, in March, faced similar criticism after Governor John Duncan literally forced it to allocate a much-needed $1.8 million to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force as well as the territory’s legal services. Governor Duncan said the executive order was a last resort, but Premier Smith responded that his government is always willing to fund law enforcement.

More would come for Stylee, Morgan Heritage

Members of the government, in the meantime, were not the only ones who earned a broadside during the peace concert last evening. Parents were also chided for not showing up in larger numbers, and for not sending more of their children.

“I am very hurt. You know why? I was just down here when they had Morgan Heritage right here and more shows, and all in here was full out… If we had Stylee Band and VIBE here on this same stage, a lot of the parents would send out their little 14 and 13 year old in their little piece of short pants,” added Sistah Joyce.

She further told patrons: “When Boss [who helped to organize the peace concert] talked to me about this ‘Stop The Crime’ concert, I tell Boss go right ahead, I going come down [from Virgin Gorda to the concert on the island of Tortola]. I doing it for free; I pay my own boat [fare]. I come down because I have kids too and, when you cry, I cry especially for what’s been going on in our small community… We are gonna lose our community if we don’t hold on and come together.”

Another entertainer who performed at the peace event, Empress Ruth, also took note of the smaller than expected turn-out. “We don’t have a full crowd but we know the message still goes out that we need to stop the crime,” she said before she belted out a few original songs.

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews (left) strikes a pose with another member of the audience at the Stop The Crime concert 

Other persons who attended the ‘Stop The Crime’ event included Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews and his deputy Alwin James, President of Lions Club Carvin Malone, as well as Sharie DeCastro who was the first to launch a public campaign against the current murder rate.

So far this year, six murders have been reported in the territory – four of them resulting from gun attacks. The murder rate previously had not passed four in any given year since 2008, when nine homicides were recorded in the territory. The population is roughly 30,000.

Photos: Musicians decry gun violence, sex crimes

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