Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Conversation about race, policing in St. Pete gets heated

ST. PETERSBURG — A panel discussion at a black history museum Thursday night started on a heated note and only got hotter, reminding both the guests and speakers that conversations about race are almost always complicated.

Titled "Don't Shoot," the event at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum invited locals to participate in a "community conversation" about gun violence after the shooting death of a young black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Nearly 50 people arrived to listen to and talk with the panelists, Luke Williams, assistant chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department; Dallas Jackson, principal of Sligh Middle Magnet School in Tampa; and LaShante Keys, diversity and equity manager for the city of Clearwater.

Museum director Terri Lipsey Scott spoke first about the importance of conversations about race.

"Typically we find ourselves talking to ourselves," she said to an audience that was mostly African-American. "Tonight is designed for one purpose, and that is to get ahead of something."

Before handing off the microphone, she asked the crowd to remain respectful. The civility didn't last long.

Museum office manager Cranstan Cumberbatch spoke of the tension between residents and the police force, and the importance of teaching children to trust law enforcement, not fear it.

"But it's not just about being shot by a police officer," he said. "It's about being shot by each other."

Almost immediately, attendees shot up their hands, took the microphone and aired their frustrations with the concept of "black on black" crime, saying that when a white man shoots another white man, it isn't called "white on white" crime.

The tension in the room only escalated. The conversation bounced from the importance of early intervention in education to parental involvement to economic inequality.

Williams fielded many questions, emphasizing that under newly appointed Chief Tony Holloway, the police force will be more integrated into the community.

"In order to be a part of your community, you can't be apart from your community," he said.

After some people left the room, Keys, who grew up in St. Petersburg, tried to bring the room together. He called for solutions.

One young woman said encouraging young people to vote is essential. Another, an employee at Melrose Elementary, challenged the room to volunteer or mentor young kids. Francette Mohamed-Moore, an art student in Atlanta who grew up in St. Petersburg, said the answer is just to listen.

Scott said this will not be the last time the museum holds a community conversation about race.

"There will be another opportunity," she said.

Contact Katie Mettler at kmettler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913.

Conversation about race, policing in St. Pete gets heated 08/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2014 3:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hulk Hogan talks Tampa Bay, depression and politics on Fox News' 'Objectified'

    Blogs

    For better or worse, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea is our guy.

    Hulk Hogan shows Harvey Levin his wrestling boots on Fox News' "Objectified."
  2. Parts of I-75 in Pasco remain closed as crews clean up pumpkin spill from semi crash

    Accidents

    Drivers on Interstate 75 in Pasco County should expect continued delays on Friday as road crews work to clean up a mess of debris — and pumpkins — left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash in the early morning hours.

    Road crews clean up a mess of crash debris - and pumpkins - left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash on Interstate 75 in Pasco County on Sept. 22, 2017. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game

    Blogs

    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?

    Blogs

    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]