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The City of Tallahassee wants to dismiss Taylor Biro's police review board lawsuit

blue and red lights flash on a police car. The sky behind the lights is dark.
Photo by Andrea Ferrario on Unsplash

The City of Tallahassee wants to get a lawsuit over free speech issues dismissed. Former Citizens Police Review board member Taylor Biro is suing after being removed from the board, saying the action violates First Amendment rights. 

Biro’s attorney, Marie Mattox says she has seen the city’s response to the lawsuit and will review it in the coming days. She and Biro have until Jan. 19th to respond to the city’s motion to dismiss the case.

The city says Biro was an unpaid, appointed board member and claims the First Amendment does not protect against removal by the group that made the appointments. The city also says the First Amendment does not protect Biro from political consequences of speech it claims runs counter to the board’s mission of being unbiased.

The Tallahassee City Commission took Biro off the board in early December on a 3-2 vote. Mayor John Dailey, Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox and Commissioner Curtis Richardson voted in favor of Biro's removal, while Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter voted against it.

Two other board members were not reappointed.

The move came after a police union complained about an anti-police sticker on a Biro’s cup which was displayed at board meetings. The sticker said "Abolish the police."

Biro's complaint states that as a result of the city’s actions, Biro “was targeted by a slew of Blue Lives Matter advocates and harassed in the local news."

The Tallahassee City Commission created the police review board in the summer of 2020 and during the peak of social justice protests following the death of George Floyd, whose death was ruled a homicide after a police officer kneeled on his neck.

The recommendation to create the board was made by Williams-Cox, and it followed several local officer-involved shootings, including the death of a transgender man who killed the son of his former partner after a fight.

Updated: January 9, 2023 at 9:31 PM EST
Updated to note there was a sticker on Biro's cup that read "abolish the police."
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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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