Activists seek to oust Tallahassee Police Chief for attending evangelical retreat
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'And I don't think he cares about people.'

A group of Tallahassee community organizations held a virtual news conference calling for the removal of Police Chief Lawrence Revell for his paid attendance and comments during a controversial religious retreat last month.

The news conference was previously planned to be held outside City Hall but was moved online because of rain. It was hosted by more than 10 organizations and featured six speakers who collectively called for Mayor John Dailey and the City Commissioners to instruct City Manager Reese Goad to fire Revell.

Revell attended the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Event retreat from Sept. 28-30. The BGEA openly opposes same-sex marriage and employment protections from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

During the retreat, Our Tallahassee reports, Revell gave a speech in which he appeared to advocate for promoting Christianity in law enforcement agencies.

“What is it that you want for the men and women that serve your community every day? Hopefully at the very top of that list is for them to know Jesus Christ as their lord and savior,” he said in the speech.

Lauren Brenzel, statewide director of organizing for Planned Parenthood of North, South and East Florida and speaker during the news conference, said it was wrong for Revell to attend an event for an anti-LGBTQ+ organization under his capacity as Police Chief.

“We cannot have a Police Chief who works with organizations that dehumanize, criminalize and promote the suffering of LGBTQ+ individuals and pretend like that is OK,” they said. “When we talk about communities feeling afraid of police, this is why.”

Barbara DeVane, a lobbyist for the Florida National Organization for Women, said Revell’s speech during the conference violated the separation of church and state.

“He does not have the right to represent a government agency using his title and talking about spreading Christianity to police officials, officers, the police force,” she said. “That is the business of preachers and missionaries, not a chief of police.”

During a City Commission meeting Wednesday, Revell said he attended the retreat on his own time and defended the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“They do great and mighty things all around this world,” he said.

He said he does not discriminate against anyone and denied that he proselytizes his beliefs at work.

“How I treat the citizens of this community and how I treat members of my Police Department will never, ever include any type of discrimination. If you want to know whether that is true or not, go ask the men and women of my department,” he said.

Lakey Love, co-founder of the Florida Coalition for Transgender Liberation, said Revell’s comments were inappropriate because he was speaking at an event for chief law enforcement officers where he was recognized as the Tallahassee Police Chief.

“We’re not denying that he’s entitled to his beliefs,” they said. “When you speak publicly and openly, it’s a problem.”

Delilah Pierre, field director for the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, attended Wednesday’s City Commission meeting. She pushed back against his comments that he does not discriminate, arguing his comments during his retreat speech alluded to actions he carried out on the job.

“I listened to that whole speech he gave, where he talks about holding the line. Where he talks about specifically and purposely using his position to push Christian values on people who might not accept that,” she said.

Pierre also discussed Revell’s controversial shooting of 19-year-old George Williams in September 1996. A grand jury found Revell’s actions were justified months after the shooting, but a witness claiming the shooting did not happen as police say was not called to testify. Friends and family members of Williams protested Revell’s appointment to Police Chief in 2019.

“We have to understand that Revell has a significant power and influence over how people in neighborhoods and communities are treated,” she said. “And I don’t think he cares about people.”

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has defended Revell amid the calls to remove him. BGEA President and CEO Franklin Graham sent a statement defending Revell’s retreat appearance to Florida Politics Thursday.

“I admire and am grateful to Police Chief Lawrence Revell for sharing his experiences at one of our recent events. He is an experienced and respected civic servant, and he was a great encouragement to dozens of other officers at the retreat,” he wrote in the statement.

Graham also criticized those calling for Revell’s firing in his statement, as well as publicly on his Twitter account.

“It is a shame that certain groups are calling for his demotion or removal because he participated in this event and expressed his faith. I would ask those who are speaking against Chief Revell to respect his rights and freedoms—and give him the same consideration that they expect themselves,” he said.

An email campaign to city officials sponsored by Florida Coalition for Transgender Liberation and promoted during the news conference has resulted in 2,499 emails calling for Revell’s removal at the time of this story’s publication.

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood


  • Ron Ogden

    October 28, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    ““We’re not denying that he’s entitled to his beliefs,” they said. “When you speak publicly and openly, it’s a problem.”

    What has the gay community been doing for several decades now, if it isn’t speaking “publicly and openly” about their beliefs?

    • Zhombre

      October 28, 2021 at 5:18 pm

      What are they saying? You have every right to your sincere beliefs. You simply cannot speak about them if they go against progressive orthodoxy and you can certainly in no way no how not never act on those beliefs or model your conduct on them.

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      October 29, 2021 at 7:53 am

      Exactly. Classic left newspeak. You can speak as long as it agrees with our beliefs

      • zhombre

        October 29, 2021 at 12:51 pm

        Diversity in all things except thought.

  • Conservative always

    October 29, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    He attended on his own time and money.

    • Rob

      October 29, 2021 at 12:51 pm

      You might want to check the links in the story. Paid isn’t “he paid” it is “he was paid”

      “TPD Top Brass Attended and Spoke at Three-Day All Expenses Paid Billy Graham Law Enforcement Retreat Last Week”

      • DavidB

        October 31, 2021 at 2:28 pm

        SO what?

      • just sayin

        November 2, 2021 at 8:44 am

        That’s much different than the city paid for him to go.

  • DavidB

    October 31, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    SO what?

  • Gary B. King

    November 1, 2021 at 11:22 am

    The first four commandments of the Decalogue address man’s relationship with God and the last six man’s relationship with his fellow man. It represents a moral code that has no superiors and few equals in the annals of man. We need leaders in the criminal justice system who adhere to a high moral code to protect us from those who would murder us, steal from us, and lie to us to defraud us. One can only hope common sense will prevail in retaining Chief Revell. Sadly though, common sense is not as common as it once was.


    November 1, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    America needs more public officials with the nerve and courage to speak out publicly and to share their belief in God. I am sorry for all of the people out there that are afraid of this. The last time I checked 911 does not ask you what your race is or if you are queer or straight.

  • just sayin

    November 2, 2021 at 8:44 am

    Tallahassee is such a Berkeley wannabe.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    November 2, 2021 at 9:20 am

    The problem is not that he attended the function or spoke. The problem is that he used his official position to say that religious affiliation is a requirement for employment. He said: ““What is it that you want for the men and women that serve your community every day? Hopefully at the very top of that list is for them to know Jesus Christ as their lord and savior,” he said in the speech.”

    • Alex

      November 2, 2021 at 12:23 pm

      He’s a kook and should lose his job.

  • Robin Jumper

    November 2, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    All citizens of Tallahassee should be excited about a Chief of Police who practices the Christian faith. That means that he will be moral, just, kind, loving, non-discriminatory, etc., rather than the contrary as believed by his opponents. If he is applying his faith well, it will mean law and order for all citizens. Every citizen of the USA, including elected officials, have the right to “live out their faith,” express his/her beliefs, attend religious gatherings, etc. Tallahassee should be grateful for a man like Lawrence Revell and work diligently to keep him as Chief of Police.

  • Matt

    November 2, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    Barbara Devine has her panties all wadded up on here strap-on.

  • Paul

    November 11, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Lawrence Revell is a good and decent man. Describes himself as “a Baptist preacher.” He has never expressed nor implied that his Christian beliefs related to the LGBT agenda in any way affects his pattern and practice of running TPD. His goal is to protect everyone. I’ve heard him speak, and heard him say the TPD philosophy/policy is to treat ALL who are encountering the law enforcement system peaceably and with dignity, and if they resist or are combative, to return to peaceable and dignified treatment the moment the situation is under control. I’ve heard Sheriff Walt McNeil say essentially the same thing with respect to the LCSO philosophy/policy of policing.

Comments are closed.


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