A Trustees of Reservations tour group was allegedly impeded and harassed by four Florida men in a Jeep on Saturday. The same men may have been involved in another incident at the Chappy Ferry, according to Chappy Ferry owner Capt. Peter Wells and Edgartown Police.
Chris Kennedy, steward manager for The Trustees’ Vineyard property, told The Times a group of visitors being driven on Cape Poge in a Trustees four-wheel-drive tour vehicle were blocked by a group of people in a Jeep. The operator of the tour vehicle, a Trustees seasonal employee, reported the occupants of the Jeep stepped out and proceeded to make cocktails, Kennedy said.
The incident hit Facebook Saturday when Kelley Ellsworth, one of the people on the tour, posted a photo of the Jeep, including its license plate.
“This white SUV was filled with drunk guys on Chappy harassing a group of Asian and African American participants of a tour. At one point they blocked the way and would not move,” Ellsworth wrote. In the extensive comment chain below her post, Ellsworth noted the men were “drunk and trying to stir things up.”
Ellsworth could not be reached for comment.
Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said his department is in the midst of an investigation of the Jeep driver and those with him. The occupants of the Jeep were all Florida men, Chief McNamee said, and may have all returned to Florida. The driver of the Jeep, he said, was interviewed by Edgartown Police Sunday, and has been cooperative. Edgartown Police subsequently interviewed other witnesses, and are hoping to interview occupants of another tour vehicle that may have been in the vicinity. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, Chief McNamee declined to offer too much detail of what he described as an “altercation” that appears to have involved one or more occupants of the Jeep voicing the names of both President Donald Trump in an unspecified context and an inquiry as to where the body of Mary Jo Kopechne could be found. He did say there doesn’t appear to be evidence of a racial element to the incident, and that a preliminary examination of what transpired revealed the Jeep occupants’ behavior may have been “boorish,” as opposed to unlawful.
The Jeep itself, McNamee said, is registered to an Oak Bluffs resident who does not appear to be part of the incident.
Nevertheless, Kennedy said the Trustees requested revocation of the Jeep’s overland permit, and McNamee confirmed that has happened.
McNamee said there may have also been an incident between the men in the Jeep and a Chappy Ferry operator. Wells said he learned some people in a Jeep may have jumped the queue in the ferry line.
McNamee said his department is playing a bit of catch-up because the incident on Cape Poge was reported the next day.
“We wish this had been reported to us Saturday,” he said.