Members of a Tallahassee social justice group are calling for incoming Police Chief Maj. Lawrence Revell and City Manager Reese Goad to resign over Revell’s appointment.
The city announced Thursday that Revell would be the new police chief after former chief Michael DeLeo, whose tenure was marred by rising crime, resigned in July. Revell, a 28-year veteran of the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) will be sworn in on Jan. 6 at 10 a.m. at a South Tallahassee community center.
But the search, which began in August, has been tumultuous. St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Antonio Gilliam backed out earlier this month after initially accepting the job, and a third finalist, Maj. Lonnie Scott, took an assistant chief job in Gainesville.
And on Monday, 15 people from Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) protested Revell’s appointment outside City Hall. Their call stems from a 1996 case in which the appointee fatally shot George “Lil Nuke” Williams.
A grand jury cleared Revell of wrongdoing a month later, but Williams’ family says they were not called to testify. And from the Florida Restoration Rights Coalition member Paula Hill, who said she knew Williams his entire life, called Revell a “truant.”
“He has this child’s blood on his hands,” Hill said. “He doesn’t deserve to be sitting in the chair as our police chief. He deserves to be in a jail cell.”
Trish Brown, a community organizer who hosted the Monday press conference, added Goad should resign over nepotism and his hiring practices.
“Hurrying this action during the holiday between Christmas and New Year’s smells almost underhandedly strategic to me and many others,” Brown said.
However Revell continued moving forward toward his new role later Monday. The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) announced it will start accepting applications for Deputy Police Chief until Jan. 10.
“As I work to build a command staff that is representative of the community we serve, each role that I fill will be critically important in helping to move TPD forward,” Revell said.
Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, who had criticized Revell’s inclusion as a finalist, continued his opposition last week ahead of the announcement.
“Revell is not fit and is not qualified to lead TPD given the totality of what he is and who he is not,” Proctor said in a statement. “Tallahassee Police Department needed a transformer from the outside and not a status quo conformer from the inside. It’s the same old TPD.”
And while the protesters said Goad did not consider community input other community leaders backed Revell’s appointment. He was one of three finalists chosen unanimously from 20 candidates, recommended by the Florida Police Chief’s Association, by a 17-person community panel.
“I have consistently said throughout this very diligent and professional process in the search for the next Chief of Police that I will strongly support the decision of the City Manager,” said Rev. R.B. Holmes, Pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. “We must all now embrace the selection of Lawrence Revell as our next chief of police.”
TCAC member Delilah Pierre called for an elected board of civilians to hold police officers accountable. She said this would avoid friends and co-workers from overseeing investigations into a fellow law enforcers.
“And we don’t mean they hold police officers accountable by giving them a little slap on the wrist. We mean real consequences for your actions,” Pierre said.
Donald Towle attended the news conference and asked about the effect on the Revell family, calling it a double-edged sword. His late father, Cecil Towle, was a homicide investigator who fatally shot a person in 1972.
“What is your point of passing judgment on the entire Revell family when — it was a terrible ordeal,” Towle said. “I think it’s hypocritical judging one officer and the whole department for one incident.”
Hill agreed that she feels sorry for both families but acknowledged that Revell’s family is still alive. And Pierre said the death of a black person is treated as nothing.
“It’s treated like Revell’s feelings, and the fact that his feelings are hurt, is more important than the death of a human life,” Pierre said.
And Lakey Love, a Tallahassee community activist, said people today acknowledge acts as racist but have a harder time identifying institutional racism.
“Institutional racism is things like a white male police chief who has gunned-down an unarmed teenager becoming the chief of police in what the University of Toronto named in 2015 the most economically and racially segregated city in the United States along with Trenton, New Jersey,” Love said.
But speaking to reporters following the news conference, Towle had a different perspective on Revell’s appointment: “Since he was involved in the shooting, wouldn’t he have more personal knowledge to make sure his department gets better training, so stuff like this doesn’t happen again?”
December 30, 2019 at 4:24 pm
C’mon really???? One only needs to look at the photo of the “Social Justice morons” to grasp the fact that the terms “racist, homophobic, xenophobe, and “Social Justice Warriors” are a bunch of idiots.Notwithstanding the fact those words have become trite and are used to weaponize individuals who believe we all are shaking in our boots! If you follow their thought pattern it makes no sense whatsoever.The guy had six warrants out on him. He confronted the police in a very tense situation and made and aggressive move that cost him his life. This wasn’t upstanding citizen that had conformation with the law he was a criminal! Now 25 yrs later we’re hearing that this Rollins person wasn’t called as a witness??? Sounds to me like whoever the attorney was for the Williams family was either dropped the ball or vies her as not good witness, or Rollins never stepped up to the plate when it was his/her turn, and now they want to relive the incident all over again??? So anytime a white police officer guns down a black person it’s racist??? How about if that black person puts themselves in a situation that may cause them to be shot and they get shot, I would call that stupid on the part of a black or what person. Hint..Don’t get into those situations!!
December 30, 2019 at 6:34 pm
Look at all them lil white boys tryin to get some colored booty! Nice try boys… but them girls are lookin for a bull!
December 30, 2019 at 10:58 pm
We should’ve expected this, in fact I did, when BILL PROCTOR didn’t get his way. I sure hope they don’t give in to their demands because I’m sick of us always giving in to these protesters. This is one time that I’d go out and protest for Police Chief Revell and I’ve never even protested before. We gave in to these groups when they didn’t want the Police Department build on Southside, South Monroe St., of course a blind man could see that coming, we know why they didn’t want the police too close to Southside. I’m tired of being called a racist because I have a different opinion, maybe they are the racist against whites.
January 13, 2020 at 6:06 am
It’s sad that only the last part of what I said was written in this article yet I feel the public needs and deserves the right to have the information that so many have hidden about this rogue cop they have appointed police chief for the city of Tallahassee to me first impressions are lasting ones and I believe in serve a protect but I fear for the safety of the people in my black communities with him (Revell) at the control of gang with badges and guns
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