It was a remarkable event on 20 June as residents of Territory donned placards and marched for equal rights and justice in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. The event attracted hundreds and was a tremendous success. Unfortunately, it was announced that there was at least one bad experience from the event which tried to turn a positive display negative.
The Deputy Speaker during the 22 June sitting of the House of Assembly lauded the Black Lives Matter march and congratulated the organizers for what he described as a successful March. “It shows that there are young people here who stand for the right things. It shows that we have young people here who believe in doing the right, no matter what some people are always saying –‘where our young people are… I think Saturday shows that we have young people who stand for right – justice.”
However, Hon. Smith said that his joy dissolved when he saw photo of himself on a news site that was taken at the march. “Mr. Speaker it was disturbing to see that some people tried to overshadow something that was good because I saw a photograph in the newspaper with me holding a sign …the word was spelled wrong on that sign.”
The photo depicted Hon. Smith posting a sign that had the word racial spelt as “rachial.” He however explained that the sign was given to him by someone and he didn’t read it: “Mr. Speaker I will say this, the elderly person that gave me that sign who was at that march – I think she was 84-years-old which speaks volumes. The fact that when she brought that sign and she gave it to me I did not read it because I was so touched to see that somebody at that age was coming to support the young ones. Mr. Speaker even if I had read that sign and see what it was I still would have walked with that sign to show the support that that person brought. We need to stop trying to break down each other. We need to stop when people are doing good try to overshadow it.”
While stating that the photo downplayed a positive thing, the Deputy Speaker said, “The thing that the young people did, that march – it was outstanding, very outstanding. It meant a lot to a lot of people and I take my hat off to them. They were brave enough to get up, speak out and I take my hat off to them.”
Outside of the unfortunate photo incident, many agreed that the march was a success. Minister for Transportation Works and Utilities Hon. Kye Rymer said that he was happy to have attended the event. “It was quite important, quite symbolic. I was happy to see so many persons came out,” the Minister said on the 22 June sitting.
The following day while speaking at the 23 June sitting Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie described the march as very significant: “It’s not only that it was a march about lives. It was a march about honouring the legacy of our foreparents and I said before and I say again that every step we took and we marched we were actually walking on the ashes of our foreparents right here in the Virgin Islands.”