Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Black leaders meet with St. Petersburg mayor over rising tensions with police

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster and police Chief Chuck Harmon agreed to hold regular meetings with black leaders after listening to their concerns about rising tensions between the African-American community and police.

Leaders from NAACP, Urban League, ACLU and Childs Park neighborhood met with Foster and Harmon for 90 minutes at City Hall on Tuesday, focusing on high-speed police chases and two recent officer-involved shootings.

The meeting didn't result in any policy changes, but black leaders called it productive.

"We are going to continue to meet to discuss things," said the Rev. Manuel Sykes, president of the St. Petersburg NAACP. "We are still not on the same page."

Black leaders said they are concerned about shootings in March and April in which officers shot into moving cars, which the department forbids unless there is a threat from someone with a gun. Both incidents are under investigation.

Two weeks ago, black leaders called a news conference saying tensions are rising between residents and officers who patrol predominantly black neighborhoods.

Foster called the meeting a "great discussion" and pledged to address the concerns.

"We are committed to bridging the gap between perception and data supported reality," Foster added.

Sykes left the meeting with a stack of documents showing falling crime rates. Still, he said crime data doesn't tell the whole story. He said he's heard dozens of anecdotes from black males telling him they feel harassed by police.

He doesn't want a repeat of the 1996 riots after police officers fatally shot Tyron Lewis during a traffic stop.

"We don't want another tragedy," Sykes said. "Statistics say one thing. One tragedy confirms perception."

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and state Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, also attended.

Rouson is glad Foster listened and said many residents don't share a perception of safer streets.

He's urging everyone to develop solutions.

"The community needs to feel safe," he said. "The criminals need to feel the heat."

Black leaders meet with St. Petersburg mayor over rising tensions with police 05/28/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 12:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump's lawyers seek to undercut Mueller's Russia investigation


    Some of President Donald Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar …

    President Donald Trump is said to be irritated by the notion that the special counsel's investigation could reach into his and his family's finances. [Associated Press]
  2. North Tampa shooting leaves one man dead


    Times staff

    TAMPA — A man was fatally shot Thursday afternoon after an argument with another man escalated, police said.

  3. St. Pete City Council tightens building rules in historic areas

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — There's a battle being waged over the soul of the city's historic neighborhoods.

    A new larger home sits next to a smaller one in the Kenwood neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
  4. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  5. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.