Saturday, October 03, 2009

The True Story of six americans arrested in Antigua

Since this story broke there has been a non stop flow of bad publicity towards Antigua which I suppose is expected if the facts are not brought to light. Why the facts are not being put into the public and more important the internet's watchful eye is simply because Antigua is not very good at PR. The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Department should have a proper PR department which is set up to out little fires before they get out of control. IT seems as though we here in Antigua always have some smoke on the ground!
The facts I will write here have been gathered from Caribarena.com antiguaobserver.com and The Antigua Sun newspaper, The Daily Observer newspaper and several people who were saw what went down. Most of the stuff that is written in the International press is coming from the people who have been charged.

The guys seen in the above photo which was featured today in the New York Daily News got on the Carnival Victory for a seven day cruise which stopped in Antigua back in early September. When they got off the ship here in St. Johns they were approached by a taxi driver on the boardwalk next to the ship. He asked them if they wanted to go to the beach and told them the rate was US $6 per person to go to Jolly Harbour's Castaway Beach. A few of them told him that he was ripping them off and that there was no way they'd pay that. The cab driver walked away as did the group of eleven young men and women from New York. Three of the eleven stopped and asked another cab driver what the price was to take the group of eleven to Castaways. He also told them that it was US $6 per person each way or $132 round trip in total. The tourists complained and said the same thing as told the last cab driver using words like "ripping us off".
The driver seen here in a photo taken from The Antigua Sun
Said that things were slow and he'd do it for US $5 instead of the US $6. One of the group said they wouldn't pay more than US $50 each way. The driver told them that the rate sheet says US $6 per person and even at $5 per person it was more than they were paying. Finally he gave in and said he'd take them.
According to court reports he took the eleven of them and even made a stop to a local shop for one of the girls to buy a phone card. She came back to the cab complaining how the card was a rip off.
He said he arrived at Castaways and wasn't paid anything. He had to wait there for them so that he could get paid. The stayed at Castaways. For the record Castaways is a beach bar and rest. which was closed at the time. One of the Taxi Association people was organizing a beach party for cruise passengers each week there where people could drink and relax on the beach. After spending time there the eleven tourists came back to the same cab driver and asked to be taken back to town. He says that when they got outside Big Banana Pizzas on Redcliffe Street just a few minutes walk from the ship which was in plain view as in this photo from the same spot, one of the eleven asked how much they had to pay. The cab driver told them it was US $100. Remember three of the eleven had negotiated with the driver. It was another of the eleven who asked how much they owed. Immedeately there was noise and cussing. Some yelled that there was no way they were paying more than US $50 and that they were being robbed. The taxi driver told them that he had already given them a $32 discount on the stated rate sheet charge and that he'd take them to the police if they didn't pay. One of the tourists yelled out "take us to the police". They slowly drove about a US "block" to the police station as there was plenty of traffic and people walking on the streets. When they arrived at the St. Johns Police Station a uniformed police officer was just walking in and asked the cab driver what was going on. He said he could clearly see that there was a problem and told the cab driver to drive into the station's yard. As the cab stopped one of the tourists jumped out and said something like "that fu$%ing nigger is trying to rip us off". With that the officer said he was placing him under arrest for the use of foul language in a police station. With that two others in the gang of eleven jumped between the officer and the guy he was arresting pushing and shoving. A female officer came in to help and was beaten to the ground by several of the eleven. From testimony in court a huge fight played out with five of the eleven INCLUDING THE ONES WHO FIRST MADE THE DEAL WITH THE TAXI DRIVER not getting involved. In fact, they paid their taxi bill and went back to the ship without getting into any trouble with the cops.
The other six have been accused of several charges including assault on a police officer.
They spent a night or two in jail before being bailed out facing their trial. Despite many reports the the contrary THEY HAVE NOT BEEN HELD SINCE THEIR ARREST! Their trial has been rushed through with them even operating on Saturdays. Many Jamaican and other non nationals have been saying that the tourists have been receiving special treatment with this speedy trial. I agree with them but that's just my opinion. I was attacked along with several other employees at the late night bar that i was working at by several thugs from London. These guys didn't want to pay a US $18 bar tab and became ultra aggressive when they were asked to pay up at the end of the night. They ended up throwing bar stools, beer bottles, glasses and glass ash trays at us. We couldn't believe that they could erupt into so much violence over less than US $20. Some people are saying that this isn't possible, but I have seen it first hand. Some are also saying that Antiguan taxi drivers are often trying to over charge people. In this case he undercharged them.
Carnival has pulled its ship out of Antigua leaving millions of dollars in revenue. Why have they done this? I think they have done this because most people on the net don't have the facts and are commenting negatively on the case. Bad reporting by the US media on this thing coupled with all the forum comments has fueled the negative vibe towards Antigua. Then you have the stupid Cruise Association and ALP here locally supporting the six tourists and the US representative too. There is no wonder Carnival pulled out. They were forced to by all the media hype against Antigua. In my opinion, this is one time (one of the few) when Antigua has gotten the bum rap. I keep thinking what would have happened had Antiguan's messed with American cops or if the 6 had beaten up some other cruise shippers here while on the island. If we had let them go without dealing with them imagine the bad press? The whole thing stinks IMHO.

5/10/09 Since i wrote this, 5 of the 6 changed their plea to guilty and saying that they were sorry asked for forgiveness. "The truth shall set you free"

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eli, your HO is spot on..these tourists have ripped Antigua off in the way this whole things has gone down.
The Political BS surrounding this is criminal...but that is business as usual ALP style !

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you Eli....Sounds like your cab driver run into some Brooklyn thugs....Also agree that the nonexistent PR machine in Anu never moved to stomp out rumors and hearsay. The powers that be sat on their hands one more time and now the good people of Antigua like yourself who put your heart in Antigua will suffer.
However I wonder if this was the last straw in a series of incidence or frustrations that Carnival had with Antigua in general....We all know its not easy doing business in Anu or with its people...

Irenegade7

Naveron said...

Eli, even though I only read about this in the mainstream media, it didn't take much to figure out that this "rabble" was to blame. Some key words were "Carnival" and "Brooklyn" I feel for the cab drivers in St. John's who are trying to make a living from the cruise ship business. Many of them are lucky if they get one fare a day.

Jodi said...

Cruise lines have conduct policies for activities aboard ship. These cruisers could have been put off the ship at the first available port for instigating a brawl on board. They were just plain stupid and arrogant to treat citizens (much less police) of another country as they did. They were guests in Antigua and should have behaved as such. Shame on Carnival for pulling out of Antigua!

Anonymous said...

Eli, Very well written and researched.
This is indeed a PR mess-up. It should be a non-issue in the press. 6 bad behaving tourist get in conflict with the law and are arrested. Happens everywhere frequently without causing more than a few lines in the press.

Public relations is indeed the key word here and Antigua is clueless and steerless. Antigua needs a PR firm badly or at least a government PR department. They need to inform the international media for cases like this incident, the murder cases for the UK couple and yacht captain and Stanford.

ty said...

Amen!Always good to hear the other side..
Bro Ty

Anonymous said...

So happy to finally find out the true story which makes a lot more sense than what the Bklyn riff raffs are saying. As another blogger stated when you put Carnival Cruiseline and Bklyn in the same sentence you should know what to expect!! My philosophy is 'if you can't afford it then don't do it'!! Its such a pity that Antigua is receiving such horrible publicity because of a few ghetto project hoodrats who probably took their first trip out of Bklyn and didn't have to use the NY transit line!!!

Anonymous said...

Well put Eli. The PR here needs some serious work. And to be fair I don't think that what the driver was charging even before he reduced his rates was unreasonable. As ever lack of decent PR means the island will suffer the back lash of this event.

Thea said...

I'm soo glad to finally hear what really happened

Anonymous said...

Carnival has not stopped visiting Antigua. We were just there last week on the Carnival Victory. Don't think that a few bad guests are going to ruin tourism for Antigua. We loved your island and have been telling all our friends to visit there.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing - Even if the cab driver was over-charging (though I don't think he was), when you are in a foreign country, understand that a fare has to be agreed upon first & BE PREPARED to pay it.
If they didn't have the $$ they had no business in his cab or on a vacation!!!
I was so embarrassed for Antigua as they were paraded in the media as victims. While I dont wish for anyone to be placed in a foreign jail, victims they were not. These are just ignorant never-been-anywhere thugs!!!

Anonymous said...

eli you started well with our tourism pr than you like so many others turn around and blame the alp our minister of tourism and his ministry should have quietly behind the seens try to patch this whole mess up but been the waste of time that they are it all fell apart

AdventureAntigua.com said...

anon, i don't think i understand your comment, but i put it up anyway. i think you are not in agreement with what i have written.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder if it was worth it for Antiqua especially once the Magistrate said that the 6 would have only been reprimanded if they pled quilty earlier. So now that they have made their point, the 6 are back home with a little over $2000.00 in fines...it just doesn't seem like a good trade to lose all that tourist money from even one of Carnivals ships. Who knows when they will pull more ships. I think Carnival feels that it was bad publicity for their cruise line too.

Anonymous said...

http://www.longislandpress.com/2009/10/25/cops-ca-woman-maced-nj-cabbie-in-melville/

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan-Dav said...

You'll probably remove this comment. Jumping on people by calling them names such as "thugs", "hoodlums", "rifraff", "ghetto hoodrats", and so on tells me all I need to know.
Now explain to me about the murders and muggings where tourists are targeted. Oh sorry, these are not upstanding name-calling Antiguans, but are "crazy" people from the other islands.
Keep it up. Let's have a few more tourists harmed, and we'll see how quickly the cruise ship operators drop Antigua. Take a look at CruiseCritic.com and see how many people are asking about safety in Antigua. Or maybe, there is no revenue from one-day visitors anyway.