Rep. Adam Hattersley is raising funds for his campaign for Florida’s 15th Congressional District off of ongoing protests seeking justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality and systemic racism.
In an email to supporters Thursday, Hattersley expressed consternation over last week’s tragic killing in which Floyd was killed by a police officer restraining him with his knee placed over his neck.
“This past week has been heartbreaking. It has felt like the country that I, and so many others have fought for, is reaching a breaking point, and that there is no relief from violence in sight,” Hattersley wrote.
The email includes a link to contribute to his campaign.
“Can we count on you to contribute a few dollars to Adam’s campaign?” the email reads above a “contribute” link.
Hattersley, during a candidate debate at Tampa Tiger Bay Friday, apologized for including the contribution link and said it shouldn’t be there.
While Hattersley’s email is pointed in its criticism of police violence, it’s in stark contrast to one his opponent in the Democratic primary, Alan Cohn, sent Wednesday to its 60,000 subscribers also asking for donations, but not to the campaign, to organizations supporting protesters.
“If you can, please consider making a donation to this collection of organizations fighting against racism and police brutality,” the email read, linking to a donation page where donation are split evenly between 13 different organizations.
Those include the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Global Bail Out, Know Your Rights Camp, Black Voters Matter Fund, BYP1000, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, The National Police Accountability Project, Color of Change Education Fund, Unicorn Riot, Campaign Zero, Advancement Project, Higher Heights for America and Fair Fight Action.
Cohn wrote that “tangible action” is needed to address the “systematic violence against black lives.”
“This is why I stand with Ayanna Pressley and am proud to endorse her resolution on police brutality,” he wrote, listing four direct actions he supports.
The actions include improving oversight and independent investigations against offending officers, Department of Justice oversight of racial profiling, police brutality, violence and civil rights violations, civilian review boards and “sound and unbiased law enforcement policies.”
Both candidates marched with protesters in the days following Floyd’s death and both shared genuine discontentment with a broken system that endangers black and brown lives.
“This weekend I joined thousands of peaceful protesters in Lakeland to stand behind our black community. The epidemic of violence in this country against black and brown Americans is a systemic problem rooted in centuries of racism, discrimination, hatred and bigotry that must be addressed and rooted out in every corner of our nation,” Hattersley wrote.
But where Hattersley continued to call for new leadership, Cohn ended his email with praise for those who are leading protests.
“I want to be able to imagine a future without injustice. And seeing the dedication of extraordinary grassroots organizers fighting police brutality, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he wrote.
He concluded with “all lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter.”
No where in Hattersley’s email did he use the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” Cohn’s email subject line led with it, while Hattersley used “change is overdue.”
The Black Lives Matter nomer has been a divisive stance, particularly on the right and, to an extent, in the middle of the partisan spectrum. Hattersley’s omission isn’t necessarily a sign that he doesn’t support the movement, but suggests he might be trying to avoid potential future criticism in a general election in which he’d be vying for support from more than just Democrats in order to unseat an incumbent.
Thursday, Hattersley said he’s always supported Black Lives Matter.
“I have repeatedly said black lives matter. ‘I’m saying it again now. Black lives matter.”
The winner of the Democratic primary will take on incumbent Republican Ross Spano who will no doubt weaponize support for Black Lives Matter as a tie to lawlessness and looting that has been seen in some cases after otherwise peaceful protests, actions peaceful protesters condemn.
A third Democrat, attorney Jesse Philipe, is also running.
Philipe, the only black candidate in the race, also marched with protesters following Floyd’s death.