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Uhurus take outrage over teen's death to City Hall

ST. PETERSBURG — A local activist group rallied at City Hall on Thursday, demanding reparations for the family of a 17-year-old student killed by a police officer last month.

Chanting "Jail the killer cop," a racially mixed crowd of about 30 activists representing the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement asked the City Council and Mayor Rick Baker to bring justice to the family of Javon Dawson.

The activists asked the city to demand that State Attorney Bernie McCabe's office be removed from the investigation, saying McCabe and his staff work too closely with police to produce an unbiased report.

"If the city of St. Petersburg believes in justice … it just seems to me that this is the time to come forward," said Uhuru president Chimurenga Waller, a former council candidate.

Javon, who was black, was shot twice during a June 7 graduation party after police say he aimed a gun at an officer, who is white, and refused to lower his weapon. Family and friends say Javon did not have a gun.

Other than a gun recovered near Javon's body by police, little evidence has been released to support either side's claims.

Thursday was the first time the Uhurus took a protest about Javon's death to City Hall.

About nine activists defended Javon during the meeting. The Gibbs High School sophomore did not have a criminal record.

The community's outrage over the death crossed racial lines, said white activist Stephanie Midler. "We don't want to see this kind of injustice, this kind of murder, in the white community either," she said. "African life does have value, just like it does in the white community."

The mayor and council quickly exited after the meeting. A police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Council member Wengay Newton, the city's lone black elected official, said he needed more information before he could take action. "The investigation is still going on," he said.

Uhurus take outrage over teen's death to City Hall 07/24/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 26, 2008 2:50pm]
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