The interior of Blacktip Island’s Our Lady of Blacktip interdenominational church was demolished during a fight that broke out during an island council meeting concerning liquor laws Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of the Rev. Pierre Grunt)
A Blacktip Island Council meeting at the island’s church turned violent Thursday afternoon during a debate over liquor laws. The ensuing melee sent council members diving for cover and resulted in more than a dozen people being taken to the island’s medical clinic.
“It started with Reverend Grunt pitching a Sunday booze ban,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “The bar owners objected and all hell broke loose.
“Rich Skerritt and the Reverend had each other by throat,” Cobia said. “Jerrod Ephesians tried to break them up and got cold-cocked with a hymnal. The next thing you know Dermot was swinging that candelabra like a scythe and people were trampling the pews to get out. I jumped through the window to get away. I still got stained glass in my hair.”
Seven islanders were arrested on assault charges.
“This is a hard-drinking island community. I accept that,” the Rev. Pierre Grunt said from his jail cell. “We’re not trying to change that. We’re just asking folks to take a day off, dry out a little, maybe even come to church.”
Resort owners say the proposed law unfairly favored the religious community.
“Pierre wants to steal one of our big-money days,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said from the adjacent cell. “You think it’s a coincidence he made an exception for the church?
“He’s selling that mead of his behind the sacristy Sunday afternoons and making a fortune,” Skerritt said. “He’s axing the competition. That’s dirty pool.”
The church has been selling its artisanal St. Dervil’s Mead, named after the island’s patron saint who first distilled mead on the island and taught its native iguanas to sing, to raise funds for building improvements, church officials said.
“The mead isn’t for inebriative purposes,” Grunt said. “It’s part of our after-church social fellowship, and sales go to new windows for the church. Now we need even more windows. And pews. And hymn books.”
Other resort owners criticized the mead sales as purely commercial.
“Pierre just wants a slice of the tourism pie without having to invest in the marketing or infrastructure,” Blacktip Haven owner Elena Havens said. “He’s even offering punch cards for every mead purchase. After 10 pints, you get your choice of a t-shirt or an Indulgence.”
Most locals sided with the resort owners.
“It’s about choice and free will, you know,” Dermott Bottoms said. “You don’t want to drink, go to church. You do want to drink, go to the bar. Rev’s trying to take away our freedoms.”
The island clinic has issued an urgent call for blood donors in the wake of the violence.
“We’re not equipped for injury on this scale,” island nurse Marissa Wrasse said. “We need blood of all types, so long as the donor is sober. Most donors so far can’t pass the breathalyzer test.”