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Tallahassee vigil commemorates life of Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Ruth Salau

By staff |
July 5, 2021
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Oluwatoyin Salau at a protest in front of the Tallahassee Police Department
Oluwatoyin Salau at a protest in front of the Tallahassee Police Department (Okay Africa)

Tallahassee, FL - On June 18, on the Old Capitol Steps, community members and loved ones gathered to celebrate the life of Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Ruth Salau.

The candlelight vigil marked the one-year anniversary of Oluwatoyin’s tragic death. Trish Brown of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee remarked, “Doesn’t seem like it’s been a year. It seems almost like yesterday.”

Community members, loved ones and organizers paid tribute to Salau with a video montage of the slain activist on a ten-foot-tall video wall, her words echoed through the court yard, “ We’re doing this for every Black person, because at the end of the day, I cannot take my fucking skin color off. Wherever the fuck I go, I’m profiled. I’ma die about my fucking skin. My Blackness is not for your fucking consumption.”

More than a year ago, Salau stood at the capitol demanding justice for Tony McDade. She chanted “Black lives matter!”, “No justice, no peace!”, and “Black trans lives matter!” along with others taking to the streets. A year later, the Tallahassee community repeated the very same cries of freedom that Salau spoke.

Delilah Pierre, vice president of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, said “The Tallahassee Police Department has the funds and resources to spy on Frenchtown and South Side communities in Tallahassee. Despite their enormous wealth and power, and their claim to be an abiding force for good in Tallahassee, in reality they only use their resources as a means to an end to further criminalize and impoverishe Black communities. The police department was not interested in using their resources and power to search for Toyin, using their helicopters, surveillance systems, and other resources to make sure she was safely returned to her home. Despite constant outreach and investigation from activists, Toyin’s life ended precisely because of a lack of active resources where she could be safely rehoused.”

Regina Joseph, president of TCAC said “We, the community organized a search party for Toyin while TPD was too busy looking for a missing dog. All the clues and information, and the reported whereabouts of Toyin were given to the police. TPD did nothing. They did not want to find a missing activist whose most famous last words commended the Tallahassee police force as a tool to repress Black people.”

The vigil was organized by the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, FSU Students for a Democratic Society and Movement 850.

Say her name: Oluwatoyin Salau.

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