British Virgin Islands

Thursday, Jul 16, 2020

Uproar in USVI as Caucasian lawyer calls BLM a terrorist group

Mark A. Kragel no longer employed at WAPA after senators call for his axing

Mark A. Kragel, who worked at the US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) for a decade as its deputy legal counsel, is no longer employed at the authority, WAPA Communications Director Jean Greaux has confirmed to the Consortium.
In a brief statement to the publication, WAPA said, "Mark Kragel is no longer with the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority."

Comments Mr Kragel, who is white, made last week ignited a firestorm online. He had called the Black Lives Matter movement a "domestic terrorist organisation," and went on to use an expletive against BLM.

"Absolutely. Spoiled mentality of fools have zero idea of what it takes to be an officer. 99% don't have the guts to even think of taking the risk that the men and women in blue do everyday. BLM is a domestic terrorist organization. F*ck BLM," Mr Kragel posted. The comment was deleted, but not before screenshots were taken and shared widely online, especially on Facebook.


Calls for Kragel's head

The pushback, first started by a grassroots movement that included random USVI residents who took issue with the post, grew swiftly until it reached the top of government. On Monday, June 22, 2020, Governor Albert A. Bryan Jr told the Consortium that he had spoken to WAPA officials to share his disdain. He said Kragel "has to go."

Delegate to Congress Stacey E. Plaskett followed with strong comments of her own: "The Deputy Legal Counsel of WAPA needs to be fired. Period," Ms Plaskett wrote on her Facebook page.

"He does not represent our government, our community, the Virgin Islands. His vitriol cannot be in anyway tolerated particularly when it is done during work hours. This is a place of love and respect."

She added, "And if he sues, when have we been afraid of a fight?"

A petition to remove Mr Kragel from the authority has garnered over 3,100 signatures.


Senators pile on the pressure

Senators piled on as well: Kragel’s employment with WAPA must be terminated immediately,” said Senator Donna A. Frett- Gregory. "We absolutely cannot allow someone with racist views to continue to hold a position of this much influence and power in our community."

Senator Jenelle K. Sarauw said, “This is not the time for patience but for action against racism. The slavery question may have been settled, but the impact is not. We struggle with the effect of colonialism in our government, politics, education, and society. It affects our economics."

Senator Allison L. DeGazon said, "As an Afro-Caribbean woman myself, I was appalled to read such distasteful and offensive commentary from the Deputy General Counsel of our locally owned Water and Power Authority. I believe the persons working for such institution should reflect the values and best interests of the community it serves, in this case, the people of the Virgin Islands."

Senator Athneil Thomas said he was outraged with Kragel’s “insensitivity and disrespect."

“For this individual in his statement to liken the BLM movement to a ‘terrorist organization’ is a clear indication that his despicable spirit supports the unnecessary killing of black individuals,” Mr Thomas said.

“The US Virgin Islands, with a majority population of black people, welcomes people from all places and all races to live within our community whom we accept and treat like family,” he added.

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