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Senate Looks to Undo 2010 Noise Law

The territory’s noise pollution law that passed in 2010 will be largely eliminated if a bill approved in the Senate’s Government Operations Committee on Thursday becomes law. Under current law, the V.I. Police Department can grant permits for excessive noise on a case-by-case basis.

The measure, offered Thursday by Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen as a substitute for a similar bill she presented in committee in June, would create mandatory exemptions for most loud parties and concerts, whether public or private, throughout the year.

Presented as a measure to preserve V.I. culture and save festival activities, the bill also says the territory’s noise pollution law "does not apply to sounds emanating on the weekend," until 3 a.m. Fridays or Saturdays and midnight Sundays, among its many, broad exemptions to the noise pollution law.

The 2010 law would also not apply to any activity by the American Legion or "the military."

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No situation was discussed in which these organizations might need a noise pollution exemption and the police might turn them down.

Also exempted were any activities on St. Patrick’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Emancipation Day, Independence Day, D. Hamilton Jackson Day, and any V.I. Puerto-Rico Friendship activity, without regard to who does the activity or where or when these activities occur.

The bill also specifies that exemptions are not limited to these events, and other, unnamed events could also be automatically exempted.

Caswell Calendar, executive director of the V.I. Carnival Committee, equated the noise exemption with
Carnival itself, pointing to the cultural significance and economic importance, saying that tourists who travel to the territory for Carnival and other festivals will stop coming if it ends at 2 a.m. rather than 3 or 4 a.m.

"If festivities are cut short, this will destroy the viability of the Carnival and potential visitors may decide to go elsewhere," Calendar said.

Assistant Tourism Commissioner Brad Nugent and Police Commissioner Henry White both testified in support of the measure, saying festival and carnival activities have cultural importance and economic importance that must be protected.

Sen. Ronald Russell said he supported the idea, but was concerned about the details of the law and how it would be implemented and how to keep Carnival and festival activities safe late at night. Russell asked Calendar how security is handled after 2 a.m. in the St. Thomas Carnival Village.

"For the most part, the police department handles security in the adult village. We might have one or two individuals there but nothing of any significance," Calendar said.

On St. Croix, the Crucian Christmas Festival Organization hires about 10 private security personnel, according to Davidson Charlemagne, the organization’s president.

"At night, are we talking about higher risks, especially from 2 to 4 a.m.?" Russell asked White.

"The answer to that question is yes," White said.

Hansen got visibly angry at the suggestion that crime is worse late at night or when police leave, and she peppered White for statistics on the subject, demanding that he submit them "in the form they used to be," without any specific explanation of what she sought.

White said any statistics from the last five or six years should be easily compiled and given to her office upon request.

Violence and murder has marred Carnival and festival activities on all three islands over the past decade, but not all violent incidents occurred late at night.

In 1999, 26-year-old Ferlyn Harris was shot in the back of the head and killed while in Carnival Village on St. Thomas. Shortly afterward, Nimba Antonio Lopez, 18, was shot and killed during a confrontation with another teenager over the Harris murder. Later that same year, Kishawn Daly was shot in the face and killed while in the St. John Festival Village.

Reports in the Source at the time do not say what time of day these murders occurred.

In 2001 an unnamed minor was shot in the leg after 3 a.m. in the St. Croix festival village, and survived.

In 2002 Alliston Francis Jr., 17, was repeatedly stabbed in the neck during a fight with another young man near the St. Thomas Carnival Children’s Village "late on the night of April 27" and died.

In 2007 Jovan Joseph, 24, was stabbed to death at around one in the morning inside the St. Croix festival village by several teenage boys after he asked them to stop hitting his girlfriend with an inflatable carnival prize.

In 2008 Edwin Dukes of Estate Concordia West was shot to death shortly before 1 a.m. at Frederiksted Beach, feet from the entrance to the bustling festival village.

In 2009 St. Thomas J’ouvert was halted after two stabbings and a shooting.

In 2011 one person was stabbed in the stomach after 2 a.m. in the St. Thomas Carnival Village, and two others were stabbed during the St. Thomas J’ouvert.

On St. Croix, J’ouvert 2011 was marred by about 25 separate fights and an incident where a police officer received a laceration to his neck from a broken beer bottle.

J’ouvert used to occur well before dawn, but has been moved to after sunrise in recent years at the request of police. Russell asked what effect the change has had.

Charlemagne said police were concerned about being able to see criminal activity, but he said he felt making the youthful tramp later had backfired and created violent incidents in recent years that did not happen before the change. Charlemagne speculated the change caused people to drink more, then to get more irritable and prone to fighting when the sun rose and the air got hot.

Voting to send the bill on for further consideration in the Rules and Judiciary Committee were Hansen, Sens. Alvin Williams and Janette Millin-Young. Russell abstained. Absent were Sens. Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Usie Richards and Celestino White.

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The territory's noise pollution law that passed in 2010 will be largely eliminated if a bill approved in the Senate's Government Operations Committee on Thursday becomes law. Under current law, the V.I. Police Department can grant permits for excessive noise on a case-by-case basis.

The measure, offered Thursday by Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen as a substitute for a similar bill she presented in committee in June, would create mandatory exemptions for most loud parties and concerts, whether public or private, throughout the year.

Presented as a measure to preserve V.I. culture and save festival activities, the bill also says the territory's noise pollution law "does not apply to sounds emanating on the weekend," until 3 a.m. Fridays or Saturdays and midnight Sundays, among its many, broad exemptions to the noise pollution law.

The 2010 law would also not apply to any activity by the American Legion or "the military."

No situation was discussed in which these organizations might need a noise pollution exemption and the police might turn them down.

Also exempted were any activities on St. Patrick's Day, Veteran's Day, Emancipation Day, Independence Day, D. Hamilton Jackson Day, and any V.I. Puerto-Rico Friendship activity, without regard to who does the activity or where or when these activities occur.

The bill also specifies that exemptions are not limited to these events, and other, unnamed events could also be automatically exempted.

Caswell Calendar, executive director of the V.I. Carnival Committee, equated the noise exemption with
Carnival itself, pointing to the cultural significance and economic importance, saying that tourists who travel to the territory for Carnival and other festivals will stop coming if it ends at 2 a.m. rather than 3 or 4 a.m.

"If festivities are cut short, this will destroy the viability of the Carnival and potential visitors may decide to go elsewhere," Calendar said.

Assistant Tourism Commissioner Brad Nugent and Police Commissioner Henry White both testified in support of the measure, saying festival and carnival activities have cultural importance and economic importance that must be protected.

Sen. Ronald Russell said he supported the idea, but was concerned about the details of the law and how it would be implemented and how to keep Carnival and festival activities safe late at night. Russell asked Calendar how security is handled after 2 a.m. in the St. Thomas Carnival Village.

"For the most part, the police department handles security in the adult village. We might have one or two individuals there but nothing of any significance," Calendar said.

On St. Croix, the Crucian Christmas Festival Organization hires about 10 private security personnel, according to Davidson Charlemagne, the organization's president.

"At night, are we talking about higher risks, especially from 2 to 4 a.m.?" Russell asked White.

"The answer to that question is yes," White said.

Hansen got visibly angry at the suggestion that crime is worse late at night or when police leave, and she peppered White for statistics on the subject, demanding that he submit them "in the form they used to be," without any specific explanation of what she sought.

White said any statistics from the last five or six years should be easily compiled and given to her office upon request.

Violence and murder has marred Carnival and festival activities on all three islands over the past decade, but not all violent incidents occurred late at night.

In 1999, 26-year-old Ferlyn Harris was shot in the back of the head and killed while in Carnival Village on St. Thomas. Shortly afterward, Nimba Antonio Lopez, 18, was shot and killed during a confrontation with another teenager over the Harris murder. Later that same year, Kishawn Daly was shot in the face and killed while in the St. John Festival Village.

Reports in the Source at the time do not say what time of day these murders occurred.

In 2001 an unnamed minor was shot in the leg after 3 a.m. in the St. Croix festival village, and survived.

In 2002 Alliston Francis Jr., 17, was repeatedly stabbed in the neck during a fight with another young man near the St. Thomas Carnival Children's Village "late on the night of April 27" and died.

In 2007 Jovan Joseph, 24, was stabbed to death at around one in the morning inside the St. Croix festival village by several teenage boys after he asked them to stop hitting his girlfriend with an inflatable carnival prize.

In 2008 Edwin Dukes of Estate Concordia West was shot to death shortly before 1 a.m. at Frederiksted Beach, feet from the entrance to the bustling festival village.

In 2009 St. Thomas J’ouvert was halted after two stabbings and a shooting.

In 2011 one person was stabbed in the stomach after 2 a.m. in the St. Thomas Carnival Village, and two others were stabbed during the St. Thomas J’ouvert.

On St. Croix, J’ouvert 2011 was marred by about 25 separate fights and an incident where a police officer received a laceration to his neck from a broken beer bottle.

J’ouvert used to occur well before dawn, but has been moved to after sunrise in recent years at the request of police. Russell asked what effect the change has had.

Charlemagne said police were concerned about being able to see criminal activity, but he said he felt making the youthful tramp later had backfired and created violent incidents in recent years that did not happen before the change. Charlemagne speculated the change caused people to drink more, then to get more irritable and prone to fighting when the sun rose and the air got hot.

Voting to send the bill on for further consideration in the Rules and Judiciary Committee were Hansen, Sens. Alvin Williams and Janette Millin-Young. Russell abstained. Absent were Sens. Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Usie Richards and Celestino White.