Tallahassee protest demands justice for Raheem Reeder
Tallahassee, FL – On the evening of May 8, activists with the Tallahassee Community Action Committee gathered with community members at Cascades Park to demand answers for Raheem Reeder and his family. Adorned in baby blue and pink bandanas, Raheem’s favorite colors, local activists intended to honor his life while demanding accountability for his death. This action marked one month since Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) officers fatally shot Reeder. TPD has since used Marsy’s Law as a shield to protect their officers from public accountability and has refused to release the names of the officer(s) involved in the shooting. In addition, TPD has also blamed Valerie Hatton for the murder they committed.
TCAC invited the mother of Raheem Reeder, Latonya Watkins, to speak to the crowd. Several of Reeder’s friends also drove to Tallahassee for this action.
Watkins expressed the trauma and tragedy her family experienced with police; both her husband and son were murdered by an officer. She demanded that Jack Campbell drop Valerie Hatton’s charges and encouraged everyone to help TCAC. Latonya left the attendees with a call to action, claiming that TCAC needs “everybody to win.” She urged the crowd to write letters to help Valerie Hatton, demanding “all charges to be dropped. She did not kill my son, she should not go down for something she did not do.”
The rally speakers insisted that the crowd and the Tallahassee community continue to organize to fight the criminal injustice system and win for Black liberation. The speakers also extended their gratitude to Raheem Reeder’s family, “it was an honor to be in their presence,” said Trish Brown.
“While we gather and organize rallies for people killed by police, we cannot help but realize that the killing of Black men like Raheem Reeder by TPD officers demonstrates the futility of the toothless ‘citizens police review board’ that the Tallahassee city government recently put together. This appointed board can only review and advise on TPD policy and conduct, but cannot hold the police accountable to the people. Despite thousands of people taking to the streets last summer demanding a democratically elected Civilian Police Accountability Council, CPAC, which would have full oversight and authority over TPD policies and budgets, the city government is trying to call its ‘citizens police review board’ a job well done. But the people know this review board is a sham substitute for true democracy and accountability. And we will not stop until we get accountability for the officers who killed Raheem Reeder and for all the victims of police violence in Tallahassee. CPAC now!” spoke TCAC Vice President Delilah Pierre.
When asked about the importance of also supporting Valerie Hatton, Trish Brown, a member of Tally 19, said, “We will not stop demanding that all charges be dropped for the Tally 19 and Valerie Hatton, the mother and main caretaker to her seven-year-old daughter, who is being framed by TPD for Raheem Reeder’s murder. Tell them to drop the charges against Valerie Hatton. Because it just doesn't make any sense that the police don’t want to be responsible or accountable for killing Raheem. They want to blame it on a 28-year-old girl.”
Regina Joseph, district organizer for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization in Tallahassee, demanded that there be justice and police accountability in the community. In light of the Raheem’s murder by a TPD officer, she also demanded that those who have intentionally hurt and threatened Tallahassee activists at gunpoint receive an equally aggressive response and penalization by the local police as the activists in this city who have been brutalized and harassed by them.
Joseph, who is also one of the Tally 19, pointed out, “What about the multiple cars that ran through our protests and hit people? Jack Campbell, the state attorney, is trying to jail us! This is a criminal injustice system and it is our right, our duty, and our obligation to make sure to get justice for all those victims of police crimes.”