For most of us, the long Labor Day holiday weekend is a last-ditch celebration — a short vacation, a backyard barbecue or beach party — with summer in the rear-view mirror.
In reality, it is a celebration of workers and their achievements, and this year takes on new meaning with the coronavirus pandemic still raging.
Eighteen months later, we continue to face setbacks, ever changing mandates and regulations, working remotely or in-person — behind masks or plastic partitions that often make it difficult to be heard — and so many other issues unique to this pandemic. While it has been hard for all of us, most public services continue at a great personal risk to those whose job it is to keep us fed, safe and taken care of.
Keeping this in mind, we owe a debt of thanks to those who continue to burn the proverbial candle at both ends to deliver care to patients suffering from illness caused by the coronavirus while still delivering top-notch care to the sick and injured. In jurisdictions like ours, shootings and homicides have continued unabated.
So, remember to say “thank you.” Remember to give thanks for those still here. Think of the 61 lives we’ve lost thus far, and if you haven’t already done so, consider getting vaccinated.
Keoner Baron’s law?
Keoner Baron deserved better.
While her name may not sound familiar, a photo of her bullet-ridden body that made its rounds on the internet is.
In the gruesome photo, the 20-year-old homicide victim is slumped over a curb in the shade of a tree while a distraught woman stands over her. She was gunned down in broad daylight, and in front of a busy St. Thomas store where she worked. She reportedly was waiting for her father to pick her up, after finishing her shift, when she was attacked.
Thankfully, the alleged perpetrator is in custody. Thankfully, witnesses came forward and helped police quickly identify the individual.
Alas, before police could arrive to cordon off the area — and while Baron presumably was still fighting for her life — someone had already snapped a photo and posted it on the Worldwide Web.
Shame on that person. Shame on all others who hit the “share” button.
Baron, police have said, succumbed to her injuries at Schneider Hospital. We can only hope that Attorney General Denise George will follow through on action first broached by her predecessor — to hold individuals accountable and help bring an end to such an inhumane practice.
Back in 2018, then Attorney General Claude Walker condemned the sharing of gruesome crime scene photos on social media, noting that he would consider criminal prosecution on a case-by-case basis because the widely-shared photos were a “growing issue of concern.”
“It is sick and disgusting and demonstrates a total lack of respect for the dead and their families,” Walker said at the time.
“Besides dehumanizing, shameful, [and] hurtful to families,” most of the photos “are taken by passersby before police have control of the scene” and thereby contaminating it.
He explained that when someone walks around a crime scene, that person is interfering with potential evidence which is obstruction of an investigation.
Walker also noted his disappointment that the trend was continuing in reference to a photo of the mutilated body of a senator’s son posted online moments after he was brutally killed in 2015, and a photo of an accident that claimed the life of a beauty queen hours after graduating from Charlotte Amalie High School in 2009.
Twelve years ago, then Police Commissioner-designee Novelle Francis Jr. also condemned the release of the latter photo. He went as far as launching an investigation with the V.I. Department of Health that resulted in disciplinary action being recommended.
Francis, a former Senate president, is still a popular senator. Perhaps now he can work with George to make Walker’s proposal a reality, and in memory of Keoner Baron.