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Tallahassee rallies for community control of the police - CPAC now!

By Ben Grant (he/him) |
September 23, 2020
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Tesia Lisbon speaking at a rally outside of City Hall in Tallahassee, FL.
Tesia Lisbon speaking at a rally outside of City Hall in Tallahassee, FL. (Photo by Anthony Suarez)

Tallahassee, FL - Community activists gathered in front of city hall September 19 for a protest calling for the formation of an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), and demanding that State Attorney Jack Campbell drop the charges against the #Tally19 - arrested for participating in a protest on September 5 to condemn a grand jury decision that condoned three recent police murders of civilians.

Saturday’s action was organized locally by the Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) with the support of Tallahassee Dream Defenders, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, More Than A Name, and Florida Planned Parenthood PAC. The action aligned with a national day of protest initiated by the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) in response to escalating repression of protest in Tallahassee and elsewhere.

Giant banners that read: “Black lives matter,” “Community control of police,” “CPAC now” and “Drop the charges” offered a visually striking backdrop for, and reflected the messaging of, speakers, chant leaders and singers at the midday action.

This year Tallahassee has seen the appointment of killer cop Lawrence Revell to chief of police; the killing of three civilians by Tallahassee Police Department in the span of two months; subsequent grand jury decisions to hold none of those officers accountable; and brutality and repression put on full display by at least five local law enforcement agencies and used against protesters on September 5, and since.

TCAC member Satya Stark-Bejnar said on Saturday, “We need CPAC and not a toothless review board. We need community control of the police because communities are people, and people deserve a meaningful say in how they are policed!”

Speaking on the need for community control of the police, longtime community organizer and recent city commission candidate Trish Brown declared, “I’m tired of the police policing the police, because all it’s doing is killing us! I’m tired of my Black city officials and my Black religious leaders turning a blind eye to what’s going on in the Black community, which is constant racial profiling and now repression for protesting it!”

Tesia Lisbon, an organizer with More Than a Name, called for “CPAC now!” and, citing the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., implored city officials, local clergy, and people watching at home to, “Come sit at the table, come hear what we have to say, because the few are fighting for the many.”

Organizers and attendees drew encouragement from one another locally, and in the knowledge that people in dozens of cities were united in simultaneous protest against police aggression, even in the face of escalating political repression.

Local media may have downplayed attacks by law enforcement against local BLM protests, but this local repression is gaining national attention. At a September 19 protest in Chicago, a huge crowd could be heard chanting in solidarity, “Tallahassee 19, drop all charges!”

Ben Grant (he/him) is a Tallahassee, FL activist.

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