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Tallahassee community members protest additional cops

By Katherine Draken |
June 19, 2015
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Protest at Tallahassee City Commission against more police.
Protest at Tallahassee City Commission against more police. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tallahassee, FL - Community members and students attended the Tallahassee City Commission meeting, June 17, to voice their opposition to ‘Operation Safe Neighborhoods.’ The program contains three elements, one of which seeks to hire 15 more Tallahassee Police Department officers.

The budget request that was originally scheduled for the meeting was moved to a later date. Still, the small group of activists gathered outside the chambers and chanted, “Money for jobs and education, not for mass incarceration.” They soon entered the city commission meeting to speak during the open comment section.

Speaking against the proposed measure were members of the Black Liberation Action Coordinating Committee (BLACC) and supporters from Long Leaf Earth First.

Regina Joseph of BLACC was the first speaker. Joseph explained to the commission that the city did not need any more police officers, stating, “TPD was shown a constant disregard for Black, brown and poor life.”

Speaking about an African American woman who was a victim of police violence, Joseph said, “Viola Young was tased in a street with no sidewalks. But, instead of spending money on sidewalks we’re spending more money on the police”.

Seat 2 Commissioner Curtis Richardson said the group of activists was “mistaken” and that the measure was not about getting more police but “a community effort to make our city safe for young people like you.” Then he went on to say that hiring more officers won’t automatically result in “skull bashing.”

Seat 5 Commissioner and mayor pro tem Gil Ziffer then told Joseph that her statements were “false,” “repugnant,” and “shocking.” He continued to say that if Joseph were in need of help she would have to call 911 because the police put their life on the line for people of color every day. Several more student and community members spoke.

After the city hall meeting, one student, Selestria De La Cruz, said she felt funds could be used in more positive way, stating, “It was important to convey that our community needs funding for programs that can bring us together and make us proud instead of funds that further separate us by intimidation and shame.”

Ellena Fisher, a lead organizer for BLACC, stated the group vowed to continue the struggle against police brutality by attending more city hall meetings and organizing more actions in the future.

The commission's members include Mayor Andrew Gillum, Seat 1 Commissioner Scott Maddox, Seat 3 Commissioner Nancy Miller, Seat 2 Commissioner Curtis Richardson, Seat 5 Commissioner Gil Ziffer, City Manager Anita Favors, City Auditors Lewis Shelley and T.Bert Fletcher and City Treasurer James O. Cooke. BLACC urges all to call the city commission and speak against Operation Safe Neighborhoods at 850-891-8181.

Video of testimony at Commission meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGbsnNKrN0M

BLACC can be reached at:

[email protected]