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In Zephyrhills, activist and police chief take stage together at unity rally

“I stand with you today and I hear your voice," Zephyrhills police Chief Derek Brewer told the crowd.
Tiffany Truth Davis addresses the crowd at Zephrhr Park at the “community unification” event she organized Saturday in Zephyrhills.
Tiffany Truth Davis addresses the crowd at Zephrhr Park at the “community unification” event she organized Saturday in Zephyrhills. [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times ]
Published Jun. 13, 2020
Updated Jun. 13, 2020

LIVE: Follow the Tampa Bay Times coverage of Saturday’s protests and events.

ZEPHYRHILLS — She acknowledges her benevolence was accompanied by naivete.

While trying to coordinate local back-to-school drives and provide Christmas gifts for needy families in recent years, 33-year-old Zephyrhills resident Tiffany Truth Davis never realized the expenses involved with starting up a non-profit organization.

“And I know how people are a little reluctant to give to a cause that’s not 100-percent on the books,” said the 2006 Pasco High School graduate. “So I used the resources that I had, and a lot of that was my family.”

Which leads us to Davis’ latest drive, staged on a humid afternoon at Zephyr Park. Again, the stepmother of two and grandma of one sought no profit.

Only peace.

Her “community unification” event Saturday — for which she secured a permit from the city — attracted a gathering of roughly 100 to demonstrate against police brutality and racism.

Among those in attendance: several Zephyrhills police officers, two city council members, the mayor and city manager.

“The whole purpose of this event was to get community unification and a peaceful protest,” Davis said. “Not at any point was it meant to be a bash-the-police event or anything event, it was meant to bring the community together.”

For the duration of the 75-minute event, that objective appeared to come to fruition.

Davis opened things by playing a recording of gospel-music artist Hezekiah “Walker’s I Need You to Survive.” Following a prayer, a number of people spoke, including Zephyrhills police Chief Derek Brewer and Capt. Reggie Roberts, Brewer’s second-in-command and former Zephyrhills High football coach.

“Starting today, let’s move to inclusion, trust, forgiveness and love,” Brewer said.

“I stand with you today and I hear your voice. Real change will not happen until we listen and open our hearts. My pledge to you is I will listen and do my part, but this effort is collective. Working in harmony is the only way to ensure success.”

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CAN YOU BE FIRED FOR PROTESTING? In Florida, you can. Learn more.

HEADING TO A PROTEST? How to protect eyes from teargas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.