|Jail and bail|
|Written by NGOVOU GYANG|
|Wednesday, 19 September 2012 15:03|
But he had not run afoul of the law: He was one of six residents who were “charged” with being upstanding citizens during the Rotary Club of Tortola’s Jail and Bail fundraiser.
Mr. McCleary was taken to a makeshift plywood cell in the Government House courtyard along with five other “defendants” who arrived in police jeeps: musician Quito Rymer, Miss BVI Sharie de Castro, Crime Stoppers BVI Chairman Kevin Smith, Dr. Heskith Vanterpool and sprinter Tahesia Harrigan-Scott.
Some of them did not go willingly.
“Oh, he is resisting arrest,” emcee Julien Johnson said when Dr. Vanterpool pretended to struggle with police. “This man has performed so many surgeries in the Virgin Islands, I never knew he could turn to a life of crime.”
One by one, the defendants appeared in a mock court, where Complaints Commissioner Elton Georges acted as judge and Rotarian “bailiffs” read out charges.
Then they were “bailed out” by participants, who waved numbered auction paddles to pledge donations toward their release.
Dion Stoutt read the charges against Ms. Harrigan-Scott, who recently competed in the London Olympics in the 100-metre sprint.
“Your Lordship, I am so happy to bring before you this notorious prisoner,” Mr. Stoutt said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “I am even happier that I am first on the list, because running behind her is a losing task.”
After the charges were read, Ms. Harrigan-Scott responded. “I am a mother of one and no child needs to be without their parents,” she told the judge before the crowd began bidding for her release.
Other defendants jokingly tried to curry favour with bidders. Dr. Vanterpool promised a free prostrate screening for anyone who bailed him out, while Mr. Smith offered to become a member of the Rotary Club of Tortola.
Ms. de Castro read a poem in her defence.
“Why me? Your Honour, please don’t let this be,” she began. “A community where beauty fails. Can’t you see that I’m just too pretty for jail?”
“Of course,” Mr. Georges interjected.
Then she continued. “And there is proof that beauty is never stale. I will marry the man who secures my bail,” she promised, drawing laughter and helping her raise the most of any of the defendants: just over $4,000.
Mr. McCleary, who wore an electronic tagging device on his ankle, took a different tack: He read a letter from Queen Elizabeth II confirming him as governor of the Virgin Islands.
Singing for bail
Mr. Rymer took the stage last, asking Mr. Georges to allow his handcuffs to be removed so he could play guitar and sing.
Mr. Georges agreed, and the musician performed songs including his new “Reggae Express” as participants danced along.
“Tonight was wonderful,” Mr. Rymer said afterward. “It was a wonderful way of raising funds.”
Dr. Vanterpool agreed that the night was a success, though he didn’t enjoy being in handcuffs. “Man, those things are tight,” he said. “The more you struggle out of them, the tighter they become.”
However, the handcuffs were the least of his worries, he added. “I was sweating,” he joked. “I wasn’t sure they were going to raise enough money to bail me out. I dreaded sleeping in Balsam Ghut tonight.”
Saturday’s event was the club’s second Jail and Bail fundraiser, according to Joycelyn Murraine, an organiser.
Last year, the event raised $21,000. By the end of the night on Friday, it had already raised $14,000, not including ticket sales, Ms. Murraine said.
Proceeds are to be donated to Crime Stoppers BVI and youth programmes, she added.
“This is a good way to recognise some unsung heroes in a fun way,” the Rotarian said. “Even if it is a thousand we raise tonight, it is the thought that counts.”