Thursday, September 24, 2009

Free The Antigua 6

I learned about this story courtesy of the TJMS (Tom Joyner Morning Show) commentator Jeff Johnson and It plays into some of the stuff that Kola Boof, Renee, Allison and I briefly discussed in our podcast with her a few weeks ago.

By dint of our birth in North America, African descended people living in the United States and Canada are considered by the rest of the African Diaspora as wealthy in comparison to the rest of our African cousins.

That's news to us on a lot of levels, but the reality is that the median income of an African-American family was $25,351 in 1998.

While we know that pales in comparison to the $88,000 median income of a White family, our African descended cousins, with visions of American TV shows on the mind, see it differently.

But that perception of wealth plays into some of the negative treatment that we African-Americans sometimes receive when we sail on these cruises that stop in Caribbean islands

But on to the subjects of this post. The Antigua Six are Rachel Henry, 27, Shoshannah Henry, 24, Dolores Lalanne, 25, Nancy Lalanne, 22, Joshua Jackson, 25, and Mike Pierre-Paul, 25.

And before you haters get started with the usual negative stereotypes about African-Americans, let me nip this in the bud now.

Peep the professions of the Antigua 6:

Rachel Henry, certified chef; fashion and runway model
Shoshannah Henry, singer-songwriter; law school student
Dolores Lalanne, social worker
Nancy Lalanne, licensed practical nurse
Joshua Jackson, crew chief for an international airline and a customer service representative for a utilities company
Mike Pierre-Paul, licensed practical nurse

They were part of a group of a dozen Brooklyn, NY residents aboard a Carnival Cruise ship that docked at Antigua earlier this month.

The six negotiated a $50 fare with a cab driver to tour the island, but ended up in a dispute with the cabbie when he demanded double the amount at the end of the ride. When the group refused to pay the new amount, he drove the passengers to a police station away from the port where the cruise ship was docked.

The group was subsequently arrested and beaten by the Antiguan po-po's. They are facing numerous charges and had an Antiguan court hearing at 2 PM yesterday in which the all pleaded not guilty.

There was a press conference held for the Antigua Six yesterday in New York, and this is the statement that was prepared by Dudley Brutus, one of the group of the tourists the Antigua Six was part of.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On August 30, 2009, Martine Larochelle, Kirstie Mauze, Joshua Jackson, Nancy and Dolores Lalanne, Antoinette Lovelace, Rachel and Shoshannah Henry, Natacha Chicoye, Edwine and Dudley Brutus and Mike Pierre-Paul, embarked on an 8 day cruise on the Carnival Victory ship leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Throughout the week, we visited the following islands: St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Kitts.

On Friday, September 4th, 2009, we docked on the island of Antigua, where the majority of the group wanted to go to the beach, while Shoshannah wanted to rent All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). As we disembarked from the ship, Martine was greeted by a van operator who agreed to take us to the beach and rent ATVs afterwards. Martine negotiated a flat fare of $50 for a trip to the locations, to which the driver agreed. Martine shared the agreement with the group, and we all walked with the driver towards his minibus, which was parked separately from the other taxi cabs. While in the minibus, we asked the driver permission to use his cell phone so we could inquire about the renting costs for the ATVs. He informed us that we would need to purchase a phone card to put minutes on his phone so we can use it. The driver took us to a store, where Martine, Kirstie and Joshua went in to buy the phone card.

While inside the store, Martine decided the price was too excessive for the phone card and decided not to purchase it. We then decided to just go to the beach.

The driver took us to the beach and agreed to return and pick us up within an hour. When the driver did not return at the agreed time, the group began to consider getting another driver. A few minutes after the hour, he returned and we decided to continue with his services because the driver had not yet received payment from us. We got back into the minibus, and Shoshannah asked the driver about the costs of renting ATVs again. He indicated that he was unaware of the price or its location, but would take the group back to the store to get the phone card to call and obtain the necessary information.

During the ride back from the beach, some of us entertained ourselves by playing games, singing and listening to our IPods. At some point, we noticed that we were driving towards the direction of the ship and not to the store to obtain the phone card. When we asked the driver what was happening, he told us that the trip has ended and the fare is $100 US. We argued that the price was not a $100 US but $50 US. In his response, he stated its $50 US going and $50 US coming. The driver re-stated that the price was $100 US and informed us that if we did not pay what he was demanding, he would take us to the police. We asked to be taken to the police that we had seen at the port earlier in the day to resolve the issue and the driver agreed. At that moment, he picked up his cell phone and made a call as he drove in a direction that appeared to be away from the boat. When the group inquired about where he was going, the driver informed us that the road was closed and as a result, he had to take another route.

The driver started to pull up to a gated area and we became fearful of the unfamiliar surroundings. As the driver approached the gate, it began to open and I jumped out of the minibus, and the rest of the group followed behind me. As the gate opened, a uniformed officer approached the minibus and exchanged words with the driver and then with Mike. The officer tried to grab Mike, who pulled away, and the officer said, “You are under arrest!” We were still largely unclear of our surroundings, and we were becoming increasingly fearful and confused. At this point, all we saw was a uniformed officer standing outside a gate in front of an unmarked building. We asked the officer, “Why is he under arrest? What did he do? What did he do?”

A man in a white polo shirt approached the group, punched Shoshannah in the face and hit Nancy (which was witnessed by Antoinette, Kirstie, Edwine and myself). Shoshannah then told the uniformed officer that she wanted to press charges on the man who punched her. The officer ignored her and continued to hold on to Mike. Then, several people in plain clothes came out of the gate and started attacking us. Shoshannah was being kicked by individuals in plain clothes as she was down on the ground. We were pushed inside the gates and Joshua was placed in a grappling hold from behind by a plain clothes male (witnessed by Edwine, Martine and myself).

Soon afterwards, Joshua was placed in a cell with Mike and a uniformed officer came to the cell, with his hand resting on his gun, and told them that if they moved, he would shoot them.

Meanwhile, Kirstie was being attacked by a plain clothes female with a red shirt and twists in her hair. Nancy ran to her defense, and then the same female began attacking Nancy. Another woman also in plain clothes came over to hit Nancy with a baton, but was advised by another person not to do so. Kirstie and Martine asked uniformed officers to intervene, but the requests were ignored, as the uniformed officer watched the scene unravel. Natacha witnessed Dolores get kicked, while Dolores was sitting on the floor crying. Antoinette and Rachel were on the floor by what looked like holding cells. Antoinette was helping Rachel calm down, who was having what appeared to be an anxiety attack at the time. I also tried to stop the fighting between the plain clothes women and Nancy, but I was pulled by the collar by a uniformed officer with a paddle in his hand. The officer then moved me off to the side and hit me in the stomach with the paddle. Antoinette, Martine and Natacha noticed our belongings on the ground and began retrieving all our property.

The police attacked us with no attempts to resolve the situation with the driver. We were in an unknown territory, trying to obtain assistance to resolve a dispute. Some of us were working at breaking up the squabble, but when attempts were made to do so, we had to protect ourselves from being punched, hit with paddles, pushed and kicked by “officers” who failed to identify themselves.

Martine, Kirstie, Natacha, Edwine, Rachel and I were released, but then two-three plain clothes individuals came running after us and demanded that Rachel return with them. Shoshannah was carried away to a different area on an upper level above the jail cells outside the main office. Shoshannah asked that her sisters, Antoinette and Rachel, accompany her, but the police officials states only one sister, Antoinette, can escort her. Inside the room, Antoinette and Shoshannah were met by Reverend Mark Azille, who instructed them to do as they were told by the officers.

There was a tall, burly, dark-skinned police officer who noticed the Reverend speaking to the women, and told the Reverend to leave the room, and then the officer demanded that Antoinette leave the room as well. Antoinette asked the officer for a reason, stating that she did not feel comfortable leaving her sister alone, but with no remorse she was commanded to leave.

Mike and Joshua were jailed while Nancy, Rachel and Dolores were behind a partition in a different holding area. Martine, Kirstie, Natacha, Edwin and I returned to the ship and met Antoinette there. We told the Carnival officials about what occurred. Carnival referred us to an individual named Kevin, who took us to Nathan Dundas, president of the travel tourism office on the island. He called us into his office and explained that the six individuals who were arrested would not be returning to the ship and advised us to retrieve the passports and personal belongings of the detained. Mr. Dundas helped us get the belongings to the group. Martine and I returned to the holding facility and left the detained with cash and debit cards. Joshua asked for a lawyer so Mr. Dundas reached out to Mr. Benjamin, a private lawyer, to represent the six in jail.

As it stands, the six of us 12 are on trial for battery and wounding of police officers, using indecent language and disorderly conduct. The six of us here are concerned about the injustice they are receiving, and we all feel victimized. Presently, we are seeking assistance from the U.S. government, media outlets and citizens of the Unites States of America to bring our friends and family members home.


Time to not only see to it that our peeps not only receive justice, but bring them back home to their families. W should also let the Antiguan government, the Antiguan ambassador in Washington D.C. and their Ministry of Tourism know that we African Americans ain't having and won't tolerate this bullshit.

Y'all won't pull this bullcrap on white tourists because the unblinking eye of the MSM would come crashing down on you.

You already got a taste of that in the wake of the July 2008 attack on British honeymooners Dr. Catherine and Benjamin Mullany at an Antiguan beachside resort that left her dead and her husband on life support.

Speaking of the MSM media besides the TJMS, where y'all at on this?

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