Tallahassee activist group seeks Kevlar vests, self-defense training to protect from white supremacy

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Leon County officials have ordered an emergency curfew to prevent further unrest.

A capital city activist group is taking donations to help protect themselves from law enforcement and white supremacists.

The Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) told Florida Politics they are looking to acquire, among other things, Kevlar vests, self-defense training, CPR training and legal representation.

TCAC has organized several Black Lives Matter protests in recent months, all of which the county has deemed “mostly peaceful.” A weekend incident involving TCAC, however, prompted county leaders to order a state of emergency and countywide curfews to prevent an escalation.

During a demonstration Saturday outside of the Florida Historic Capitol, a man drew a firearm after a physical altercation between him and demonstrators. The Tallahassee Police Department  (TPD) and State Attorney’s office first deemed the unnamed man’s response as lawful. The next day, however, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said an investigation is ongoing.

TCAC Task Force Chairperson Lakey Love disputed law enforcement’s account of the incident. What’s more, Love said the incident and TPD’s response made members feel more unsafe.

“We’re asking our community members to back the movement, to help support us to keep the organizers safe and to help do further training,” Love said. “That way we can keep the protesters that join us safe from violent action like the kind that we saw this weekend.”

The incident was also noticed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a statement, SPLC Policy Director Carrie Boyd urged State Attorney Jack Campbell to look at the altercation with “fresh eyes” and not blindly trust TPD.

“People who are exercising their right to peacefully protest should not fear that they will be shot and killed,” Boyd said. “The recent tendency of police to look the other way and condone this behavior in Tallahassee and other places is disturbing and must be called out. Let’s make this clear: if a Black counter-protester had pulled out a gun at any rally, the outcome would’ve been very different.”

Boyd added that video of the incident shows the man was not in danger before he drew a gun.

In their only statement, TPD applauded their officers’ quick response and de-escalation. They also made a point to say the event was non-permitted.

“Impromptu protests do not allow for adequate TPD support and create potentially dangerous conflicts with vehicles and other individuals,” TPD said.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported Thursday that TPD intends to increase enforcement at non-permitted protests moving forward.

Love would not comment on TCAC’s willingness to coordinate with police for future events. Instead, Love detailed the protest’s purpose.

“We’re in the streets demanding accountability for a violent, racist department,” Love said. “We are not in the streets to work with the police. “We are in the streets to get Chief Lawrence Revell removed, to get justice for Tony McDade and Mychael Johnson, to demand the removal of (City Manager) Reese Goad, and to advocate for community control of the police.”

Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil requested the curfew to prevent further violence and unrest, a news release said.

The order claimed law enforcement was aware of persons requesting funds, people and equipment to respond to future threats.

“Law enforcement resources may not be immediately available to respond and intercede in a manner that would prevent escalating physical violence and the risk of bodily harm that may occur at impromptu protests,” the proclamation reads.

The order will expire Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.


7 comments

  • Bella

    September 3, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Great reporting, Mr. Delgado!

  • Alan Kornman

    September 3, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    If TCAC, BLM, or ANTIFA did not get a permit from the City to march and block traffic on a public road then they are not legal protestors they are rioters.

    The author of this article knows the definition of a legal protest as does every elected official, policeman, and Judge.

    TCAC did not get a permit and is part of the PROBLEM, not the SOLUTION. TPD is there to enforce the laws on the books. The SPLC is aiding and abetting TCAC’s lawlessness and should be publicly shamed.

    Civil society demands all people follow the rule of law.

    ITs as simple as that.

    • Randy

      September 4, 2020 at 7:03 am

      I agree. Further investigation should happen and the two or three instigators that were beating on the counter protestor that drew his gun in fear of his life should be rounded up and charged with felony assault. By definition of the stand your ground law this could have ended in a shooting and by all means many concealed weapon holders probably would have shot. They were beating, kicking, and dragging him in a mob scene on the pavement. These illegal protests against the police and law enforcement need to stop. Maybe if they start getting fines for blocking roads and creating disturbances effecting the lawful residents of this community it may slow them down.

  • just sayin

    September 4, 2020 at 8:49 am

    A good way to not get shot is to not attack people.

    • Randy

      September 4, 2020 at 8:56 am

      Agree.

  • John

    September 4, 2020 at 8:57 am

    They need Kevlar and other supplies because

    “… the risk of bodily harm that may occur at impromptu protests,”

    Again, unpermitted. Hence, riots! And they want to be able to protect themselves from what? Hitting people without the fear of being injured when they get hit back? As much as they want to say they were innocent when the gentleman pulled his weapon last week, they were all surrounding him, videoing him, and who knows what else at that point since the videos available block what caused him to turn around, but something the protesters did made him turn around.

    My suggestion to these folks wanting to spontaneously protest, show up, stay on sidewalks, respect other people’s personal space, there is no need to video or shout at anyone walking by.

    However, if you do instigate a confrontation via these means, especially if you are wearing ‘riot’ gear… expect an appropriate response! And don’t cry we didn’t do anything in you selfie cams because we will all laugh at you.

  • Joanna Noteman

    September 10, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    I was born in 1951. I may be older but I have seen, witnessed and done a lot in my life. I grew up in Detroit. Not the suburbs but Detroit city proper. I lived there during the riots of the summer of 1967. I saw the flames of the fires from my bedroom windows.

    I participated in the VietNam Moratorium March in Washington DC in the fall of 1969. I participated in peaceful protest. I am a member of the National Organization of Women.

    I voluntarily enlisted in the United States Army in 1973. And proudly served for six years.

    I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

    I am a law abiding American Citizen.

    When law abiding American Citizens exercise their Constitutional right to peaceful assembly I am totally in support. However, when people cross the line, when people purposely disregard the law they should be held accountable. In simple terms, if you break the rules, if you break the law, if you assist or abet someone else in breaking the rules or laws you need to be able to accept the consequences of your actions.

    I know the difference between peaceful protest and civil disobedience. So do you. You play – you pay.

Comments are closed.


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