British Virgin Islands

Saturday, Oct 24, 2020

Statement by Virgin Islands News Online over cartoon posted on June 15, 2020

Our newsroom has been overwhelmed with calls for and against the cartoon posted today Monday, June 15, 2020. We are surprised with sentiments that our cartoon has somehow trivialised serious ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests in the United States and around the world.

However, because of our obligation to be accountable to our readers, we wish to make it clear that the cartoon in no way seeks to downplay the seriousness of the global campaign against racism, racial injustice and police brutality.

Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) strongly rejects all forms of discrimination, including racism, racial injustice and police brutality, whether in the Virgin Islands (VI) or anywhere else.


VINO’s extraordinary record

To say that VINO is downplaying the ‘Black Lives Matter movement’ or even the tragic death of Blacks in the United States at the hands of racist police mobs, cannot be supported with facts, as we are one of the few media sites that have consistently published articles about injustices not only in the Territory but worldwide.

It is no coincidence that VINO has been following and publishing stories about issues relating to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, including the killing of George P. Floyd Jr and most recently, Rayshard Brooks.

We have also published stories of local legislators condemning racism and injustice and violence against Black people.

For example, on June 13, 2020, we published the article ‘Premier calls for elimination of racism in all forms & places' and on June 9, 2020, we ran the story ‘We in Virgin Islands not immune to racism'- Dr Wheatley.

The main message of both articles was for the elimination of racial injustice, particularly against persons of African heritage.


VINO remains ahead of the class on justice for all issues

Additionally, VINO has been the only news site to report that a march against racial injustice, in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ bringing light to racism and police killing of Blacks in the USA, is being planned for June 20, 2020, on Tortola. This article was published on June 12, 2020, with caption ‘March against racial injustice being planned for VI’.

We will make no apology for ‘white guilt’ over a history of colonialism and racism and a few (the same old crew) who continue to seek the attention of our esteemed founder, the Honourable Julian Willock, Speaker of the House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands, who has nothing to do with the cartoon or the day to day operations of the news site.

The cartoon in question was created out of statements made by Commentator Claude O. Skelton-Cline on his Honestly Speaking weekly show on June 9, 2020, when he likened some of the actions and policies of the United Kingdom and the current Governor as having their knees on VI’s collective neck.

An article on Mr Skelton-Cline’s statement was published by this news site on June 13, 2020, captioned ‘UK & Governor have 'knees on VI's collective neck'- Skelton-Cline.

We are concerned that some residents with their own agenda and a few known racists (Caucasians) have deliberately taken to social media and misinterpreted our cartoon but we are honoured to also clear the air by presenting the facts and putting this matter to rest.


Looking attention; not going to work

In addition, its head shaking that some locals with dubious characters, like a former teacher and political aspirant with a shady past, now seeking attention, will use this cartoon to seek political points. Their lack of moral qualities have preceded them, so, therefore, no one is taking them seriously, particularly, the good people of District 3.

To our surprise, a failed civil servant professing to be a Christian, who was given an opportunity to run an important government department where she treated her workers and some members of the public with disdain and insensitivity and was chased out of the Department because of her incompetence, had the audacity to call business persons and go on social media asking advertisers to not support the news site.

This kind of social media bullying is reserved for those with lots of time on their hands and little contribution to society.

The good thing is that VINO believes in our readers and many others have already called to say we can see right through the agenda of the few trying to be relevant, over a cartoon which in its proper context is harmless.


Double standards?

Maybe, as a society, we should be outraged when a few years ago children were going to bed hungry while $7.2M was ‘gone with the wind’ from our treasury, or teachers were forced to purchase teaching aids from their pockets while over $1.6M was spent on a small high school wall.

Where were the social media postings and outrage? Was there a call to boycott any of the businesses that engaged in a $50M overrun on the Tortola Pier Project? Funds we need now as we start the 2020 Hurricane season or struggle with the COVID-19 fallout?

We continue to be grateful for the tremendous support from our readers locally, regionally and internationally, and stand committed to accurate reporting, speaking truth to power, ensuring we live and work in harmony while not shying away from the issues that matter and providing relevant satire via our cartoons.

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