May 6, 2002
9:23 AM   Subscribe

Bridget Cross, former member of Velocity Girl and Unrest has been arrested with her S. African boyfriend (geocities link, probably go down) under some very sketchy cirumstances in. The case allegedly involved locals at a bar in Alaska harassing Bridget and her boyfriend due to his being black, a fight ensued, they fled, and were pulled over and arrested by cops. He is charged with intent to kill, and she has been charged with fleeing a crime scene and DWI. He is also being denied access to the South African consolute. [more inside]
posted by malphigian (13 comments total)
Here is the text of what allegedly happened, for when the geocities site dies:
What happened?

In late August our friend Bridget Cross and her boyfriend Franswa Fernandez were camping on vacation in Skagway Alaska. Franswa, a South African national, was subject to derogatory and racist treatment by some of the locals who otherwise never see black people, let alone Africans.

Bridget was not used to this side of the West, and didn't prepare for it. They kept to the tourist campground except when they needed supplies from town to keep the inevitable confrontation to a minimum. They were on vacation and not looking to prove something.

One Saturday night they went to town with friends from the campground to celebrate one of their birthdays. All were having a nice time in the town's only bar, the Red Onion Saloon, when the locals, mostly railroad workers, professional hunters and laborers started harassing Bridget and Franswa. Why? Because he was the only black man for miles and he had a white girlfriend. This is not merely a guess, this is what the locals verbally complained about. A brawl broke out over Bridget and Franswa being together. These true bar fights break out almost every weekend in rural Skagway, Alaska amongst the hard laborers that work the railroads. During the brawl, a railroad worker was slashed and Bridget and Franswa drove away from the fight for their own safety. I received email from a witness who said Bridget, Franswa and all of them fled the bar. Bridget told me she thought she was going to be killed and ran for her life.

There fleeing car was stopped by the police, both were thrown to the pavement at shotgun point and roughed up. Bridget Cross, it might be worth mentioning, is a small woman, approx 5” 3’ and poses little threat to anyone, let alone, an armed policeman.

Franswa was charged with the intent to kill and Bridget was charged with aiding and abetting Franswa, fleeing a crime scene and DWI. In Washington, DC they would have been asked to identify their attackers. In Alaska they were arrested as unknown outsiders. Both have been sitting in prison since the first week in September 2001. Bridget was released in late February 2002, but Franswa is still in jail. Court dates have been postponed numerous times and with each time they sat in prison longer.

Franswa has been denied access to the South African consulate and his family in violation of international legal treaties. His mail is sent 4th class rather than air mail, which takes weeks to reach his government. He is subject to daily racist treatment at the hands of the Aryan Brotherhood, a well-documented prison gang rampant in the US prison system and in Alaska.

We have an opportunity to help our good friend Bridget and publicize the violation of Franswa's civil rights because of his citizenship and race.

The US justice system may be many things, but it's not free. Bridget's court-appointed lawyer did little but suggest she plead guilty to crimes she didn't commit (and one that would leave her in prison for a while). In order to defend herself she needed to hire a decent private lawyer and that is expensive. It is worth mentioning that once she hired the “good” lawyer, he got several ridiculous charges thrown out. Just because someone is arrested, doesn’t mean the charges are real.

Bridget's mother, an elderly widow who is retired, has spent tens of thousands of dollars, more than many earn in a year, of her retirement funds on this lawyer. There are also countless expenses. For instance, the prison phone monopoly charged us approximately $1.25 per minute when Bridget called us collect. Prison rules that benefit this monopoly state that we cannot call the prison from our own phone, Bridget has to call using the monopolistic lines and phone calls can cost us $50 or more to receive.

In order to support Bridget and her mother during this time, a few of us have begun to organize a benefit for Bridget's legal defense fund. There has been some support expressed from a big name artist and even the chance for a reunion of one of DC's best known bands.

Therefore, in support of Bridget and her mother's legal bills, we will be holding a benefit show in Washington, DC. Every cent we bring in will go straight to Bridget’s mother to pay for her legal bills.

posted by malphigian at 9:24 AM on May 6, 2002

skagway, eh? aptly named.
posted by quonsar at 9:31 AM on May 6, 2002

mirror. the site has gone down.
posted by quonsar at 9:53 AM on May 6, 2002

It appears that they've already reached plea agreements. (Scroll to headline: "Cases settled in stabbing")
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:16 AM on May 6, 2002

Instead of leaving the place where they were being harassed, they got into a fight. Mr. Franswa stabbed a man, who had to be medevaced to a hospital because he was bleeding severely. The couple then chose to drive away from the scene, trying to get into Canada. They were turned away from the border and arrested.

Additionally, Ms. Cross has already been released (Juneau Empire, April 7) and is on probation. Mr. Franswa is due to be sentenced on May 10.

I can understand the need to raise funds to cover exorbitant legal fees, but they are not being accused of crimes that didn't happen.
posted by LeiaS at 10:23 AM on May 6, 2002

Wow, nice work guys finding those stories, I searched for a while for some less biased reporting on the case.

I don't claim to know the details of the case, who started the fight exactly, just thought it was an interesting story.

In any case, for those who do feel strongly, I believe the fund raising is happening either way, as the fight put them into serious debt.
posted by malphigian at 10:31 AM on May 6, 2002

This is pure bullshit and needs to be seen for what it is: an attempt to make money through propaganda, specifically by whitewashing the criminal actions of Bridget Cross and Fernandez. Playing the race card to explain your own criminal actions is nothing new and that is exactly what is happening here. Fernandez was drunk on his ass and got in a fight with one man, and was the one and only person to use a weapon; he pulled a knife and stabbed David Lehmann twice in the stomach. He and Cross fled the scene and attempted to drive to Canada. On March 12, Fernandez entered a plea of guilty to second-degree assault, a class B felony. Cross also pleaded to a lesser charge of hindering prosecution in the second degree, a class B misdemeanor; The imposition of her sentence was suspended for a one-year probationary period. IMHO this 'benefit' is a scam.
Last time I was in The Red Onion Saloon there were Blacks, Whites, Native Americans and Japanese tourists, loggers, fisherman, railworkers, etc. I've seen as many as five separate fights going on at the same time there but not due to racism and no weapons were involved. And last time I was there I didn't notice a South African Consulate.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:47 AM on May 6, 2002

These true bar fights break out almost every weekend in rural Skagway, Alaska amongst the hard laborers that work the railroads

Not to take away from what happened (or my have happened) but I lived in Skagway, Alaska for 5 months the summer of 2000. I was in the Red Onion all the time and I never saw a fight like this (or any bar fights, as best as I recall) or heard any racial slurs. Not to say there aren't any racists in Skagway, but this kind of occurence is hardly the norm.

Nitpicky points: there are actually 4 bars in Skagway (not just one) and the Red Onion is very tourist friendly. Also, tourists visit Skagway from all over the world, so I find it hard to believe anyone there has "never seen a black person."
posted by witchstone at 11:29 AM on May 6, 2002

Bridget Cross once played with my Fisher Price toys when Unrest came to my house party. She and Mark Robinson didn't talk to anyone. Then they smoked all our pot and left. She seemed nice, though.
posted by n9 at 2:25 PM on May 6, 2002

Rats. I should have read the rest of the thread before making my Free Franswa posters.
posted by todd at 3:47 PM on May 6, 2002

Gotta say this is making me like Metafilter as micro-news filter (if not in its tedious big-N Newsfilter incarnation)...odd story brought to attention, MeFites with various powerful flashlights shine them into otherwise dimly lit places (metaphorically speaking here, natch), context applied to otherwise flat and unyielding face of a narrative -- and I didn't even have to Google.

There are days I really like this place...
posted by BT at 7:35 PM on May 6, 2002

I'm sorry I got to this thread a few days late, It being 8 May now. I'm absolutely flabbergasted by this. I knew Bridget fairly well in college, along with other Slumberland and Teenbeat people. Heck I knew her when she was a high school kid who used to call in the the U. Maryland campus radio station to request songs. Bridget was one of those people about whom you could really say she was a gentle soul. I cannot attribute any bad motivations to any action she might ever take. None at all. Its just not who she is. Anyway, this thread has run its course, but I wouldn't mind new ones being initiated as further developments come up.
posted by Akaky at 9:22 PM on May 8, 2002

Whatever the official conviction record states, having known Bridget briefly in the mid-90s through TeenBeat, I was shocked to hear how this whole incident unfolded. The cases are apparently over, though there are conflicting reports about this. Whatever the motivations/defenses that led to the actual barfight, unquestionably both Cross and Fernandez were treated with undue impunity while incarcerated. I would probably plead down too, if I thought a lengthy court proceeding wasn't in my best interests, or wouldn't lead to an eventual acquittal.

For Bridget's part in the crime, I genuinely support any action she took to leave the scene, at the peril of remaining there after the stabbing. Call it confusion about the situation at hand, or willful negligence, serving 7 months is certainly a just punishment. She wasn't the one doing the stabbing. If she isn't allowed to leave Juneau until her probation clears, her freedom to work and live peaceably [back home] is subsequently restricted, as well.

At any rate, I will be at the DC benefit show, to help defer Bridget's legal costs. As the website above states, this is a benefit to help Bridget's mother recoup as much as possible after supporting Bridget's legal defense -- nothing more, no one else's.
posted by legibility at 11:33 PM on May 8, 2002

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