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NAACP Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. community debriefing
ST. PETERSBURG — On January 15, 2018, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday is typically a day for jubilation for the African- American community, but this year went terribly wrong. As opposed to feeling the festive vibes and the aroma of good old southern food, African Americans in south St. Petersburg found themselves contained by barriers, caution tape and a plethora of law enforcement that some described as militia, while others felt they were being held in a police state.
To add insult to injury, residents reported to the NAACP incidents where they were met with hostility as they attempted to inquire about why the heavy police presence. Our beloved Brother John Muhammad posted a video of him attempting to simply go home after a long day. The image resembled that of a rat trapped in a maze attempting to get out of as he meandered his way around to his Childs Park residence.
Strolling along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street was not happening this year; at least not at the level people were accustomed to doing so. Young adults reported being insulted by police officers, while police formations were formed at about 4:30 p.m. long before dark and residents threatened that city street sweepers would soon greet them if they did not disperse or move out of the street.
Storefront business owners located in Childs Park and Midtown lost money because access to their businesses was blocked.
In response to many phone calls, emails, texts and Facebook posts, the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP has called for a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Debriefing. The purpose of the debriefing is to allow any resident or stakeholder who has a concern to voice their opinion.
The debriefing will end with potential solutions, addressing concerns regarding permitting, vending opportunities, heightening the celebration to ensure we are celebrating at the level and manner to which Dr. King deserved. This debriefing won’t be and can’t be a screaming and blaming match that results in people leaving frustrated with no real solutions!
The NAACP is praying and preparing for changes that result in our community taking responsibility for the changes that are needed to ensure Dr. King is appropriately celebrated but more importantly moving beyond the expectation that someone has to do it for us.
The African-American community is blessed to have some of the best and the brightest minds. The NAACP wants to create the environment where that cream rises to the top!
Join us, Saturday, Feb. 3 from 10-1 p.m. at the Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S, St. Petersburg.
Maria L. Scruggs, President, St. Petersburg Branch NAACP