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Police Shootings Bring Protests in Tallahassee

On this National Day of Protest, cars and people wearing masks filled a parking at Tallahassee Community College Saturday before noon. They were amassing for a protest caravan around the Leon County jail.

35-year-old Chadwick Mayer wrote ‘black lives matter,’ ‘outrage and action,’ and ‘no justice, no peace’ on his car. “I’m not a person of color. I am a white male,” Mayer says. “I have all the privileges that are given to me not only by my race but also by my gender. But it doesn’t matter. Systemic racism is a problem for everybody.”

The Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) organized the caravan "to stop the racist murder and violence that this administration has willfully unleashed." They are protesting what they call police violence and poor treatment of prisoners during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group also wants justice related to the Tallahassee police shootings of Tony McDade and Mychael Johnson. A similar protest happened simultaneously on the Florida State University campus and at Tallahassee police headquarters. Another in front of the Old Capitol on Apalachee Parkway left a protester injured after being hit by a truck. A suspect is in custody.

At the forefront of the protests is the fatal shooting of Tony McDade this week by a Tallahassee police officer. Early Wednesday morning, McDade posted an hour-plus Facebook Live video. He talked about being attacked by a group of 5 men and promised to kill all of them. He also repeatedly said he expected to have a standoff with police since he had no plans to go back to prison.

“I understand that police officers want to protect themselves and the community, but they should be doing more to deescalate situations involving people who are armed and especially people of color,” says Izzy. She’s joined in the car by Anthony, who says, “There needs to be more in place for the officers’ training so that they don’t get put into situations where they feel like the only route out is to open fire on people.” Anthony and Izzy, who didn’t want to give their last names, have a large sign on their car that reads ‘Justice for Tony McDade.’

“Tony McDade was a black transgender man recently killed in Tallahassee,” says Delilah Pierre, outreach coordinator for TCAC. Pierre worries about how police are “going to spin” the story of McDade’s shooting and says there is rarely a need for officers to use deadly force.

“If you are going to murder someone, it needs to be transparently known by the community,” says Pierre, who wants police body camera footage released. It’s unknown whether any such footage exists, but Chief Lawrence Revell says it wouldn’t be made public until a grand jury hearing.

Investigators say an officer looking for a suspect in a deadly stabbing Wednesday morning on Saxon Street spotted McDade, who fit the suspect’s description, outside the nearby Leon Arms Apartments. They say the officer then observed McDade with a handgun. A TPD news release said “the suspect then made a move consistent with using the firearm against the officer, who fired their issued handgun, fatally striking” the suspect.