For the past year I predicted a major racial disturbance on the Virgin Islands. Much of it, especially on St. John, is focused on money. I spoke to our senator-at-large in depth about the situation in St. John and received the typical, "great idea, I'll look into that immediately," then nothing, as usual.
All over the world, including the U.S., those persons that have bought or owned property for many years receive some form of tax break or freeze on the amount they pay usually based on the rate paid years ago. The reason is very simple. The incomes of those persons usually are the same or slightly higher than when the property was purchased. In New York, it's called rent freeze for old tenants, in California it was a tax freeze for property purchased before 1976, etc.
We have millionaires purchasing land in St. John (that's OK), driving up the value and the taxes (not OK) for those residents that were there long before they arrived. To make matters worse, you have some of those same persons now acting, feeling and creating a "better than you" attitude towards local persons fighting to keep their property due to these high taxes.
I lived on St. John from 1984-1986 before moving back to St. Croix. I went back to St. John enough times to know that there was a major change taking place, and once proud land-owning St Johnians were selling property in order to pay their taxes. No self-respecting hardworking individual who has been a long time tax-paying citizen, regardless of color, should ever have to revert to selling their property in order to pay property taxes.
The V.I. government has set up a tax system for landowners on St. John, St Thomas and now St. Croix that will create the biggest racial uprising since "Fireburn." It begins with frustration within solid hardworking citizens not prone to crime of any sort. It spreads to those less fortunate and our youth who recognize the adult frustration and their own frustrations of fighting to be heard and understood. It is bad when the less fortunate or not as intelligent rise up and fight, but when the working class, the intelligent, the solid citizens rise up, then it is on a much different level.
It is not their neighborhood that gets burned down; it is the "haves" neighborhoods; it is not throwing of gas- filled lit bottles but carefully placed explosives. For years the senate and government have overlooked this growing problem. Somehow, their $65, 000 salary or more precluded them from being part of the struggling community. They placed themselves above the very community they were to serve.
Now the revolution is near. I hope these same persons can feel the energized heartbeats, the footsteps of the angry masses, and the frustration of increased prices everywhere: the gas pump, grocery store and taxes!!!
The other day in Atlanta, I purchased $12.76 worth of items at the supermarket. That same purchase in St. Croix would have been $51. I saw a merchant in Atlanta buying items to sell in his shop. I called a friend and asked him to tell me the price of those items in a particular St. Croix store. It was 5 times the cost.
Virgin Islanders (all colors) are wonderful persons, who will be patient longer than most. But how long can you go with rising costs and stagnant or decreasing wages? It's time to put egos out back for a rest and to deal with the community, or the return of racial uprising will destroy America's Paradise.
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