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St. Petersburg police force splits along racial lines


St. Petersburg, Florida is 25% black. 125 black police officers met with local black politicians and professional black race hustlers. Media was kicked out of the meeting. Afterwards a list of demands for special treatment were issued. The crowd also wanted the mayor to halt five upcoming law enforcement promotions, because the recipients are white. They said the black leadership would pull it’s support for the white mayor if their demands were not met.

From TampaBay.com…

The decades-old strain between the black community and the Police Department has permeated the agency’s rank-and-file.

Roughly 125 black police officers, city activists and clergy members met behind closed doors late Tuesday with Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin to discuss widespread racial turmoil. Tensions ran high during the 90-minute meeting held at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church on 20th Street S.

The group asked the city to halt five promotions, likely all white officers, planned for next month and asked for an outside agency to investigate the department’s inequities against black officers.

“It’s not about individuals,” Assistant Chief Luke Williams told the group. “It’s about relationships in the community.”

While meeting leaders asked the media to leave and sit outside so the group could talk openly, reporters from the Tampa Bay Times and the Weekly Challenger could hear every word through a collapsible wall dividing the room and the sitting area.

Those attending told Tomalin that they have no faith in the white leaders of the department. After hearing complaints for about 20 minutes, Tomalin said she and Mayor Rick Kriseman would not intervene.

“Like it or not, we have a person serving as interim chief,” Tomalin said, referring to interim Chief David DeKay. “The mayor is not at all interested in undermining his authority.”

The crowd wasn’t pacified by her response.

With a nationwide search under way for a new police chief, the department is fractured into two camps behind the top internal candidates: Williams and Assistant Chief Melanie Bevan.

Williams has the support of fellow black officers. Many on Tuesday accused Bevan of running the department while working behind the scenes to win union support. She declined to comment Wednesday.

Kriseman also would not comment on the issues Wednesday. “At this point in time, I’m gathering all the facts,” he said. “I’m not prepared to respond.”