Since a Beaconite moved to the territory in February 2019, she’s been amazed by the work of Virgin Islands Search and Rescue. For months, she has been telling herself that she would join the team and gain some valuable experience while assisting the community. She is happy to say that she finally attended her first VISAR meeting on Monday, and will begin her training today. It takes at least nine months to become a member of the crew, and that includes steps like water safety and first aid training. She is also excited to experience VISAR’s newest fundraiser, a synthetic ice rink, which will be set up in the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park on Nov. 28.
While covering the launch of the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College on Tuesday morning, a Beaconite was asked to sit in the second-storey balcony, where, apparently, all the media personnel who attended the event would be sitting. The Beaconite figured that this was an effort to ensure social distancing, so of course he followed the directions. However, he soon came to realise that no other members of the media were coming, and much of the first-storey sitting room would remain empty. Figuring that it wouldn’t be a problem to sit in an unoccupied row of seats, the Beaconite changed position so that he could take better photos once the event started, only to be promptly asked to return to the balcony. The Beaconite explained to the event coordinators that it would be much harder for him to do his job from so far away, and he asked why it would be a problem for him to take photos from the same vantage point as the Government Information Services photographer, who was allowed to roam the auditorium. Eventually, the Beaconite was allowed to shoot from a position close to the stage, and he is grateful that the staff accommodated him. However, he also wonders why the media were initially relegated to sit in an area that would make it so much more difficult to take high quality photos, while GIS staff were stationed as close to the stage as possible. There doesn’t seem much sense in making it difficult for journalists to cover government events.
News from home
Though most of the news a Beaconite consumes in a week comes from the Caribbean, she still makes it priority to keep up with news from her hometown. One headline from Wisconsin Public Radio caught her eye last week: “Barron County cuts $25K from domestic violence shelter over support of Black Lives Matter.” The story explains that the shelter publicly stated that to “end intimate partner violence and sexual violence, we must grapple with our country’s long history of racism, slavery, genocide and colonisation.” Shortly afterward, law enforcement agencies — including the police department from the Beaconite’s hometown — ended their affiliations with the organisation, and the county cut $25,000 in funding earmarked for the shelter. It seems rare for those in power to so blatantly leverage their financial resources to silence a message decrying systemic racism. The shelter’s executive director said in the article that the organisation’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t a criticism of local law enforcement agencies. The organisation, she said, recognised that the root causes of racism, police violence, sexual violence and domestic violence are often the same, and it believed that remaining silent in the face of violence and oppression causes harm to the survivors it serves. Facing the reality of systemic inequities in one’s hometown is difficult, but it is the only way to move forward. The reporter appreciates the work that went into this coverage as rural America barrels down the path to vast news deserts caused by longstanding and recent economic hardship. She also shares her condolences for the Washburn County Register, which faced insurmountable challenges due to the pandemic and published its final issue on Sept. 30 after serving her community for 131 years. She also expresses a sincere hope that high-quality local journalism persists somehow. Clearly it is needed now more than ever.