Six Brooklyn tourists on trial in Antigua and Barbuda on charges stemming from a dispute with a taxi driver issued a lengthy statement Wednesday outlining their version of events.
Rachel Henry, 27, Shoshannah Henry, 24, Dolores Lalanne, 25, Nancy Lalanne, 22, Joshua Jackson, 25, and Mike Pierre-Paul, 25, were part of a group of a dozen Brooklynites aboard a Carnival Cruise ship docked at Antigua earlier this month. The six negotiated a $50 fare with a cab driver to tour the island, but ended up in a dispute with the cabbie when he demanded double the amount at the end of the ride. When the group refused to pay the new amount, he drove the passengers to the police station.
According to the statement, read at a news conference in Brooklyn on Wednesday, the group agreed to go to the police station, but instead of going to the station near the port where the ship was docked, the cabbie drove the tourists to a police station in an unfamiliar area. It was there, the group said, that they were placed under arrest and beaten by police.
Kevin Powell, a community activist and writer who organized Wednesday’s news conference, told BlackAmericaWeb.com that authorities had dragged out the process. The case Powell was told would only last a day or two is dragging toward its third week.
There were reports that the Rev. Jesse Jackson may traveling to Antigua in an attempt to negotiate a settlement with authorities to gain the tourists' release. Powell said late Wednesday he had not spoken with Jackson, but was glad to see greater attention focused on the situation in the Caribbean nation. On Tuesday, Carnival did not return a call from BlackAmericaWeb.com seeking comment, but the New York Daily News reported a spokeswoman for the cruise line denied reports that it had left the tourists hanging and only recently in touch with their families.
Carnival "has been in frequent contact with these individuals and a variety of assistance has been provided," spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz told The News.
Read the full statement prepared by Dudley Brutus, one of the group of the tourists, which was read at Wednesday's news conference - The Trip from HELL