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City Officials, Activists Call For Firings In Wake Of Weekend 'Clash' Downtown; But Not Everyone Agrees

Ryan Dailey, WFSU
City Hall was the backdrop Wednesday afternoon for a coalition of city officials and heads of local advocacy groups criticizing local law enforcement.

City Hall was the backdrop Wednesday afternoon for a coalition of city officials and heads of local advocacy groups criticizing local law enforcement. The group is ripping the agencies for their response to a downtown protest march this past weekend.

The arrests of 14 protesters during the downtown march led to activists’ calls for the firing of City Manager Reese Goad and Police Chief Lawrence Revell.

Lakey Love is spokesperson for the Tallahassee Community Action Committee:

“(Leon County) Sheriff (Walt) McNeil has got to go down as well. He’s been completely complicit,” Love said. “And the coordinated attack was a coordinated attack ahead of time.”

County Commissioner Bill Proctor, like the activists on hand, characterized the law enforcement response as being planned, and directed his ire at Mayor John Dailey.

“Dailey, as mayor, had to know this type of militaristic exercise was going to go down,” Proctor told media.

City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow on Wednesday reiterated his previous call for City Manager Reese Goad to resign. He wouldn’t commit to backing the group’s calls for TPD Police Chief Lawrence Revell to be fired, as the City Manager has hiring-firing power over that position.

“There’s demands personally for the police chief to resign,” Matlow said of protesters’ demands. “There’s demands on the City Manager. So I can understand how those types of demands, and egos can get involved, and we end up with clashes like we saw this past weekend.”

The Tallahassee City Commission’s incoming newest member, commissioner-elect Jack Porter, also gave remarks.

“I’ve been in contact with the families of victims, others involved, including law enforcement, including our leaders around the state, and I am committed to supporting healing and progress in our city in any way I can,” Porter said. “And that includes peaceful protests, and that includes accountability, in being here today.”

Not everyone in the community is calling for leaders of local law enforcement to be fired.

Christian Minor is a criminal justice reform advocate who lives in Tallahassee. He says he would have rather see arrests avoided entirely at protests, and only civil citations issued when necessary.

“I 100 percent understand why people are protesting, especially as it pertains to the Black Lives Mater movement,” Minor said.

But, Minor added, rather than calling for firings, he’d rather see conversations take place.

“When groups are up calling for the direct resignation of law enforcement officials here in the community that have really worked to bring the community together, as it pertains to racial disparity, and some of what is being protested on has to do with victims in the community who are being overlooked – I think it presents kind of a mixed message,” Minor told WFSU Wednesday.

Protesters over the weekend were marching in response to a Leon County grand jury clearing officers of wrongdoing in three fatal police shootings this year.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.