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TCAC Leader Blasts Grand Jury Findings In Officer-Involved Shootings, Defends Group's Tactics

A Black woman wearing a blue headscarf, white face mask, dressed in black
Lynn Hatter
/
WFSU News
Tallahassee Community Action Committee leader Trish Brown being interviewed by reporters

About 100 people walked to Florida’s Capitol building Friday protesting a Leon County Grand Jury’s finding that the use of force in three recent officer-involved shootings this year was justified.

Trish Brown, a founding leader of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, says she’s watched the body camera videos the city has released and disagrees with the Grand Jury’s determination.

“I believe if an officer kills someone, then the accountability should be conviction, or indicted,” Brown says. “You don’t hear about police going to jail or being prosecuted. You can’t tell me all these officers are innocent … to me, it’s a matter of saying ‘police are above the law’. Who is policing the police?”

The Grand Jury released findings in the officer-involved shooting deaths of Wilbon Woodard, Mychael Johnson and Tony McDade. The city also released corresponding body camera footage of all three fatal encounters. Hours before the releases State Attorney Jack Campbell told WCTV that decisions wouldn’t come for at least seven days. The announcements also came amid a county-wide curfew, following a protest organized by TCAC last weekend that ended with a counter-protester drawing a gun on members of the group.

About an hour before Saturday’s protest/rally, Tallahassee Police Department officers approached TCAC members as they gathered in a nearby parking lot to advise them against walking in the street and blocking traffic. Brown, rubbing her eyes and sighing heavily after the exchange, said she feels TCAC has been targeted and blamed for inciting violence.

“I feel like, once again, it was about looking at us like we were the ones at fault for the incident on Saturday when we were minding our own business and conducting our own rally. We were peaceful with what we were doing, but they [police] turned around and made it seem like we were the aggressors. We have been practicing peaceful protesting for months, and we’re not here to promote violence or hurt anyone. We’re just calling and responding on the things we want done in our community.”

TCAC has been at the front of several recent local protests regarding police use of force and social justice issues.

Updated: September 5, 2020 at 6:38 PM EDT
Brown and about a dozen other participants were arrested/detained Saturday as the protest was declared an "unlawful assembly" By the Tallahassee Police Department. Law enforcement from several local organizations dispersed the crowd. The declaration came as a caravan of President Donald Trump's supporters was heading to the capitol.