Hundreds of protesters demand justice for victims of police crimes in Tallahassee
Tallahassee, FL- For the last two days hundreds of people have been gathering in Tallahassee to demand justice for police crime victims. In just the past two months, the Tallahassee Police Department murdered three people, under the watch of killer cop Chief of Police Lawrence Revell, who murdered George “Lil Nuke” Williams in 1996. On Friday afternoon, May 29, protesters gathered at the capitol in the afternoon and then joined ranks with an evening protest organized by others at the TPD headquarters.
Protesters demanded justice for African Americans across the country who have been slain by police, including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Tallahassee locals Mychael Johnson and Tony McDade. They demanded the release of local law enforcement tapes; the release of the yet-unnamed involved officers' names and their indictments; and the departure of Lawrence Revell from the helm of TPD. They chanted “Black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe,” “Justice for Mychael Johnson” and “Say his name, Tony McDade!”
Tesia Lisbon said, “We’re asking the city to release the tapes and arrest Zackri Jones. We have continuously received inconsistent information about body cam footage. We know that the state attorney has the ability to bring justice to the people even during a global health pandemic.”
Chief Revell and State Attorney Campbell refused to address the people who mobilized May 30. The Chief also says everyone deserves their day in court. Unfortunately, he must not feel the same about Wilbon Woodard, Tony McDade, or Mychael Johnson, in Tallahassee, who didn’t get theirs or he would be holding his subordinates accountable.
Chief Revell reports Zackri Jones, two-time killer cop, is on paid administrative leave, feeding his family with the tax dollars of the people in protest today. We will not accept ‘meetings behind closed doors’ offered today.
The May 30 protests saw mostly-spontaneous, simultaneous and independent protests take place at Wescott fountain on FSU’s campus, the state capitol, TPD headquarters, and the Leon County Sheriff department.
The Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) pre-organized a 100-plus car caravan protest led by marchers on foot to the Sheriff’s Department-Leon County Jail as part of a coordinated National Day of Action demanding health safety and justice – the release of prisoners and inmates given the deadly impact of COVID-19 in densely populated settings, an overall end to violence by law enforcement, and for community control of police.
The protest also emphasized recent police killings nationally and locally, and the crisis of perpetual violence and trauma done unto generations Black communities by law enforcement. Protesters chanted “Black lives matter,” “Bring out the sheriff,” and “When Black people are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!”
In the middle of the Leon County Jail protest, organizers received word that a truck driver had intentionally accelerated into the crowd of protesters at the police department rally, striking several and injuring at least one.
Hundreds gathered at the jail, swiftly relocating to join protesters at the Tallahassee Police Department. Most joined the in-person protest; some remained in cars, forming a protective barricade between the protesters and traffic, including police vehicles. “An injury to one is an injury to all,” said TCAC member Satya Stark-Bejnar, “Our people got hurt, so we’re here to make sure no one else gets hurt. We’re our own barricade.”
At the police station, protesters demanded that Lawrence Revell meet with them. After two hours of waiting, they were told that he was with his sick wife, socially distancing. The protesters then took to the streets and held all lanes of traffic marching south to the capitol building, barricaded from behind by car caravanners, followed by scores of police vehicles. Rather than take to the capitol steps protesters held a rally in the middle of that intersection.
When asked why it was important to protest, Jesula Jeannot said, “Because we must take up the space. We can no longer stay in a box that wasn’t meant for us anyways. We need to be heard; they need to see us. We are allowed to be angry out loud.” The crowd was encouraged to call the State Attorney Jack Cambpell, whose staff promptly shut down the phone lines.
Some organizers of the protest reached out to city commissioner and Revell supporter, Diane Williams Cox. She promised a thorough investigation and said that the state attorney had the footage of Mychael Johnson’s murder by killer cop Zakcri Jones. She did not echo or affirm the crowd’s demands.
Unappeased, protesters turned north and marched from the capitol to the governor's mansion where they were met with police, sheriffs, SWAT and riot squads complete with guns, shields and vans. An unnamed protester jumped the gate at the governor's mansion only to be swiftly arrested. Protesters eventually moved away from the mansion and south, toward a solid line of helmeted, shield wielding police. Using amplified sound, the Tampa police called repeatedly for the crowd to disperse. The crowd stood defiant and continued to hold the streets until, on their own volition, made their way back to the capitol with a dozen car caravanners holding a buffer line between the tail end of the march and scores of police cars, again following close behind. Protesters again held the intersection in front of the capitol building for another hour.
Thunderstorms appeared to disperse the crowd but the swell of people walking back to their cars reformed as a march and again took the streets at the governor's mansion.
The protest finally died down after eight hours.
When asked about next steps, Deliliah Pierre of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee said, “Organize. Get out into the community and develop a relationship with the people living there, set up meetings, show up in local politics, just do everything you can.”
There are more events planned by TCAC including a Justice for Tony McDade Virtual Press Conference at noon on Monday, June 1, and a Vigil for Mychael Johnson June 5 at 7 p.m. on Blairstone Road and Mahan Drive.