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‘Williams Delight Downs’ Closed Down By VIPD, DPW Due To Coronavirus Social Distancing Concerns

FREDERIKSTED — The Virgin Islands Police Department said it participated in the closing of an illegal horse racing path in the Williams Delight area on Thursday.

Throughout the past two years, VIPD has responded to the path used for unsanctioned horse racing. Officers have gone to the location in the past, renamed by attendees as the Williams Delight Downs, to redirect participants, VIPD spokesman Toby Derima said.

“Usually, after officers depart the area, the attendees would return to the path in continuance of racing their horses, which included illegal betting,” Derima said. “Over a period of time, upon being notified of the unlawful events, VIPD placed immobilized vehicles on the path in attempt to curtail the races.”

Those vehicles were recently removed from the path by participants so that the horse races could resume again at Williams Delight Downs, he said.

A recently-circulated video shows dozens of attendees at the Williams Delight horse race path.

“The attendees engaged in mass gathering without any masks or personal protection equipment,” according to Derima.

The Williams Delight horse path as it was being demolished on Thursday.

VIPD requested the assistance of the Department of Public Works to provide a remedy by purposefully damaging the horse racing path.

The location is on private property, not owned by any of the horse aficionados, according to police.

The horse race participants do not have any legal right to be on the property and therefore were trespassing, police said.

The VIPD said it “continues to encourage the community to be responsible as the threat of community spread of the coronavirus remains.”

“Activities like these illegal races, with the obvious dangers they pose, only add to the risk,” Derima said.

But the local community was up in arms about the destruction of the horse race path this weekend, sounding out on social media.

“Watching the horse track by Williams Delight being demolish is truly heart breaking,” Malik Stridiron wrote on Facebook. “So the owner ain’t want get sue. A senator behind the movements. Smh. Compromise to a solution could of been done.

“Guide the ones behind coming up with this track on what is needed to have them and those who screaming about illegal to be legal until whenever the horse track gets up and running. You can’t force the owner to go against his decision but if you been in his ears talking pure negative talks SHAME ON YOU!!! The hurt in the eyes and voices of the horse owners and spectators really hurt.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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