Ethnic vitriol punctuates parking lot fracas

A fracas beside Xtra Mart Monday involved slurs. — Martha's Vineyard Times

A slur-laced tirade during a parking lot dispute in Vineyard Haven Monday nearly brought people to blows. The situation involved a pickup that had a car partially blocked. The pickup operator, a white male who hasn’t been identified by The Times, was outside the vehicle drinking a beverage in front of Xtra Mart, and quarreling with the motorist from the car, a woman of color who also hasn’t been identified by The Times. On behalf of the woman, several people, some of whom were also people of color, tried to convince the man to move the pickup. The man was resistant to moving the pickup, and instead hollered such things as,

“You’re a brown bitch,” “Go back to Jamaica,” and “Jamaican sluts.”

The insults appeared to infuriate the female motorist, who was about half the size of the man, and at one point she rushed toward him, but she was ultimately kept at bay by the people who’d been trying to advocate for her. 

The female motorist repeatedly asked the man, “Where are you from?”

The man eventually moved his pickup to another parking space, and the female motorist was able to leave the lot in her car. 

Soon after, Tisbury Police rolled in with three cruisers and a motorcycle. They left a short while later. 

Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio said Wednesday there isn’t any further investigation underway. He said the people involved in the incident had dispersed when officers arrived, and that hampered further inquiry. However, he said, he has instructed the investigating officer to conduct any follow-up he deems appropriate. The Times provided police with a video recording of the incident.

Janeesa, whose family owns Ackee Tree Caribbean Grocery, next door to Xtra Mart, said the incident is “something that happens all the time.” The pickup driver regularly taunts patrons of her family’s market, she said.

She described his comments as coming from “deep-rooted hate” for the Jamaican community, and said he purposely tries to block black people in “all the time.”

“It’s just a really upsetting situation,” she said. “They didn’t really help the situation,” she said of the police. 

The Times captured the incident on video, but hasn’t published that footage due to the amount of offensive language.