Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NAACP gala honors fallen officers with speeches and song

ST. PETERSBURG — Every year, the local NAACP honors the accomplishments and heroics of local police officers during its annual Freedom Fund banquet.

On Saturday, it did so posthumously for the three St. Petersburg police officers killed this year in the line of duty: canine Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz, Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger and Officer David S. Crawford.

"There is too little regard, it seems, for the sanctity of life," said the event's keynote speaker, Robert N. Davis, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. "We lost three police officers recently. That is intolerable. And one involved a 16-year-old boy, taking the life of another and losing his own in the process."

Yaslowitz and Baitinger were killed Jan. 24 by armed fugitive Hydra Lacy Jr., who was hiding in an attic. Then, 28 days later, Crawford was shot and killed while questioning a suspect in a prowling, Nicholas Lindsey, 16. Lindsey is charged as an adult with first-degree murder.

The officers' deaths marked the first time in 30 years that St. Petersburg has lost its sworn protectors in the line of duty. Their deaths fueled racial tensions because the officers were white, and the men they confronted were black.

The NAACP banquet was in sharp contrast to the weeks after the shootings, when St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster sparred with his top black administrator, Goliath Davis. Davis was the subject of criticism after he attended Lacy's funeral, but not Yaslowitz's and Baitinger's. Foster eventually relieved Davis of his post, saying he "lost confidence" in him.

"This year's event celebrates the coming together of the community on every level," said St. Petersburg NAACP president Manuel Sykes.

Among the attendees were Foster, police Chief Chuck Harmon, Deputy Chief Luke Williams, state Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, NAACP officials and local and civic church leaders.

The banquet, now in its 78th year, concluded with the tribute song Let's Get Together, written in honor of the slain officers and performed by teenagers from the Boys & Girls Club of St. Petersburg. R&B singer and Grammy nominee Jeffrey Osborne also performed.

The honorary chairman of the banquet was Bill Edwards, chairman and chief executive officer of Big 3 Entertainment, which recently was awarded the contract for managing the city-owned Mahaffey Theater.

Luis Perez can be reached at (727)892-2271 or

NAACP gala honors fallen officers with speeches and song 06/04/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 4, 2011 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  2. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  3. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  4. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”
  5. N. Korea says strike against U.S. mainland is 'inevitable'


    North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is "inevitable" because President Donald Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname "little rocketman."