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St. Petersburg mayor to meet with NAACP over shootings and hiring practices

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster plans to meet Tuesday with black leaders about rising tension between the African American community and the city's police officers.

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.

"We're looking for a systemic outcome, said the Rev. Manuel Sykes, president of the St. Petersburg NAACP. "We believe the system needs to be changed."

The black leaders also want the Police Department to examine its record of hiring and promoting people of color. The meeting will be Tuesday afternoon at the Urban League offices.

Last week, representatives from the NAACP, Urban League, ACLU and Childs Park neighborhood said tensions are rising between residents and officers who patrol the predominantly black community.

Foster said Police Chief Chuck Harmon also will attend.

"If they have concerns, we'll listen," Foster said. "I'm never averse to meeting with members of the community."

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

St. Petersburg mayor to meet with NAACP over shootings and hiring practices 05/24/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 24, 2013 5:16pm]
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