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Photo Of 2 Women Wearing Bathing Suits In Town Touches Off Firestorm Of Controversy On Facebook

CRUZ BAY — When a St. John resident posted an image of two women walking through town wearing only their bathing suits — it immediately touched off a firestorm of commentary on social media.

Heather Weeks, in the Facebook group “Voices of St. John V.I.” said she noticed three people politely ask the two women wearing bathing suits in town to “cover up.”

“After being asked by the locals to cover up she wanted to throw a punch at me,” Weeks recalled. “Classy. Just wear a cover up. Don’t respond: ‘Is this your vacation?'”

Some V.I. Free Press readers responding on social media cited chapter and verse of the Virgin Islands Code stating that fines can be levied against public decency offenders.

But a legal professional whose job it is to know exactly what Virgin Islands law is, told the V.I. Freep this:

“There are First Amendment issues and selective enforcement issues. If you aren’t going to enforce it at Carnival, how are you going to enforce it other times of the year?”

PHOTO IN QUESTION: By Heather Weeks

One reader cited the V.I. Code and said that bikini wearing in town violates “public decency” standards and is punishable by a $50 fine.

But still others took more of a “live and let live” relaxed attitude about the controversy.

Here are highlights of the controversy in the words of the people who weighed in on this issue.

“Gotta be dressed in town!!!! Get dressed or get a ticket. I hear now this law is underenforced,” longtime St. Thomas resident Kathleen Brennan said from Kentucky.

“There is no such law,” Ajahh Habibi Muhammed replied to Kathleen Brennan.

“There was 35 years ago,” Kathleen Brennan said in response.

“Hmmmm…. she should have waited until juvee (J’ouvert) then the same people who told her to cover up would have wineing up and down the street trying to jam,” Jorge Acevedo said. “See what I did there.”

“People needs to mind their own business,” Linares Vivian said.

“Like they say, some folks just got no culture,” Mike Kirschbaum said.

“People need to get a life!” Ja Dilley said. “Why shouldn’t someone be able to be outside in a bathing suit? Because some whiny bitch is offended?”

“Why people don’t mind their own damn business,” Shawn Hemp said.

“When in Rome…” Sheri Soto said. “The people on Island cover up and you should too, it’s the law.”

What damn law?” Ajahh Habibi Muhammed countered. “You obviously not from here or don’t live here. Some ahu just need to mind ya business.”

“Let the people enjoy the ‘island’ life..or what it’s supposed to be,” Forward Ever said.

“Looks like ‘Vacation Karens’ are coming to a destination near you,” Stede Bonnet said.

“Sorry not cool,” Rhonda Roy Comparin said. “Respect town rules that have been there for centuries. She could go topless at the beach but it has always been custom to dress conservative in town. Shameful disrespect.”

“I always cover my fat,” Sharon Hunter DeMarte said. “Hopefully wouldn’t walk the street at home like that. Be respectful of this beautiful paradise & the islanders putting up with us tourists.”

“Question I have is how many people would be offended if this person was walking around your neighborhood stateside?” Anthony M. Bailey asked.

“Offended is a strong word for that,” Jennifer Thomason Bowlin said to Anthony M. Bailey. “She may not look great but it’s her own business.”

“Not the custom in the states but it should be, LOL,” Rhonda Roy Comparin directed to Anthony M. Bailey.

Tonya Swinnea posted a Justia U.S. law link to the Virgin Islands Code relating to crimes of indency.

“Wish it was enforced,” Sandy Robb said to Tonya Swinnea.

“No shirt or shoes, no service?” Barbara Cary-Osborne said.

“It disrespect to our island!” Millie Johnson said. “They do not walk around like that in their home state except on a beach! But they think they can do what they want to when they are here! Disgusting!”

“I have the same complaint at our complex…it’s NOT. Club Med,” Lynne Russell said. “It’s my front yard. So please, cover up to go to the pool.”

Oh…. but Carnival and J’ouvert don’t create a “firestorm of controversy” can’t walk from beach in your swim suit but girls can twerk all over town in next to nothing to demon music and it’s all safe… lol!” Ryan Ishence Willard said. “OK buddy. Tell Karen go mind she own business.”

“He’s not wrong,” Nathan Walker said to Ryan Ishence Williard.

“Thank you,” Bin Hameen said to Ryan Ishence Willard.

“So Caribbean music is demon music. Got it. And there is a time and place for everything this is for carnival it’s done all over the world and once a year she is casual strolling in the street big difference,” Richie Richardson said to Ryan Ishence Willard.

“Bacchanal,” Ryan Ishence Willard said.

“A couple years ago, my at-the-time one-year-old got a full 32-ounce painkiller dropped on her head walking through town, and rightfully lost her mind,” Carlie Norkunas said. “My husband quickly took off his shirt to dry her face and wrap her up in it. As he was doing so, got bombarded with people about taking his shirt off in town – people who witnessed the entire scenario and were actively watching her meltdown. I think there’s a time and place like everything else.. bathing suits to walk around town, probably not necessary.”

“Tourists used to have common sense,” Leslie McMillan Garretson said.

“We have laws on the books we need to enforce them,” Winnika Phillip-De Gout said. “I bet if they were in another Caribbean island they would’ve gotten a ticket and escorted to there destination.”

“Curious…is it legal to shoot bullets in the air, drive drunk or drive a car that has no seatbelts or side view mirrors?” Jennifer Morgan Baxter asked to Winnika Phillip-De Gout. “I think it’s funny that this woman is what people are worried about.”

“I love we’ve come to a point where were just writing stories about Facebook arguments,” Djniko Kallas said.

“Hard-hitting journalism right here,” Hector A. Squiabro said to Djniko Kallas.

“Yes… let’s report the news that really matters!” Kathy McAllister agreed with Hector A. Squiabro.

“Even joggers with no shirts is a violation,” Lester Browne said.

“Mehn, we had a girl pull down her shorts in front of the airport in Vieques today squirt in another girls mouth and then post it on Twitter,” Pete Berton said. “The locals are looking for them with pitchforks and torches.”

“I run with my shirt off down town Christiansted and the lady cops give me a triple honk if you know what I mean,” Mike De Sorbo said.

https://law.justia.com/codes/virgin-islands/2019/title-14/chapter-51/1022/

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