Tampa activists discuss relations with police
Since the protests in Tampa last summer after the death of George Floyd subsided, activists have focused on the attempt to strengthen the independence of the Citizen’s Review Board (CRB) from the city police .
Mayor Jane Castor has worked with the Tampa Police Department Union, ACLU and other parties on a revision of its original version for months, although she continues to fail to respond to what some activists ( and board members) protested.
As the Castor administration is set to present the latest proposals to city council next month, a public discussion was held in Ybor City today to gauge the mood of the activist community, just days after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of all three counts. against him in Floyd’s death.
It wasn’t the most balanced conversation, however.
Tampa Police Benevolent Association (PBA) spokesperson Danny Alvarez did not appear after being initially listed as a speaker at the event, hosted by the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.
“I think we have a long way to go, but I’m hopeful because people aren’t losing momentum,” activist Bernice Lauredan said, recalling the summer 2020 protests. “They don’t. are not disappointed. . They are not discouraged. People are still as invested as they were last year when they walked, and I think that says a lot. “
Lauredan led some of those marches in Tampa last year, including one in front of City Hall where she avoided Castor right after the mayor left her office and came down to join the protest.
Mayor Castor’s Community Policing Working Group, a group formed by the mayor last summer to change TPD by improving public relations and police training, met publicly this week to talk about some of his 17 recommendations from those discussions.
Yvette Lewis, head of the Hillsborough County NAACP branch, dismissed the task force on Friday, calling it a “front” and saying “we need to see aggressive change.” She also said several of her recommendations had been ignored, such as “better” community policing and more implicit bias training.
As for the CRB, Stanley Gray of the Hillsborough County Urban League could have described the activists’ reaction to the body when he was originally trained by former mayor Bob Buckhorn in 2015 when he was declared that “perception is reality”.
“If it is perceived that this is not a real organization as opposed to a rubber stamp organization, I think you are not going to have community buy-in or involvement,” he said. he told Spectrum Bay News 9 before the start of the official meeting.
Negotiations between the mayor and city council for a stronger CRB focused on some of the same issues that took place in 2015: Campaigners want council to have the power to summon witnesses, while council wants to have the power to select more. members of the board of directors as the mayor.
On subpoena power, the issue may need to be addressed by addressing the public through an amendment to the charter review, Councilor Joe Citro said.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but we have to go through the Charter,” he said.
Citro also spoke on behalf of the TPD when he said he believed there were “many police officers who are going to take the opportunity to retire” and others who might have hesitated to enter the police force because of the current tensions. in the country about the police following the Floyd incident.
“You have to admit that it’s really hard to be a police officer these days,” he said, adding that TPD is dedicated to citizens.
“I will support the Tampa Police Department one hundred percent as a whole,” Citro said. “But the first officer out of the line?” This is an other story.