Open letter to city council

Dear Chairman Gerdes and Councilmembers:

The National Christian League of Councils respectfully appeal to the St. Petersburg City Council to appropriate significant funding to memorialize the most critical act that desegregated and abolished the systemic institutional racism perpetrated by the St. Petersburg Police Department and council prohibiting African-American police officers from patrolling its white communities.

The simple recognition and erection of a statue of the “Courageous 12” African-American police officers, who in 1965 engaged in the same civil rights acts as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Rev. Dr. Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham, Ala., would send the message of how far St. Petersburg has come in 54 years.

Former Southeastern Field Director of the Justice Department Community Relations Division, Warden Emeritus of Dade Correctional Institution, former SPPD officer and member of the Courageous 12 – the late Freddie Crawford — shared with several administrations the blueprints of the proposed statue, which has yet to be embraced and acted upon.

Here is one of the St. Pete’s most positive historic civil rights moments, which countered the most negative segregationist moments when the city council passed the 1936 laws segregating and relegating blacks to only reside south of Central Avenue by law.

This civil rights moment in our city’s history has been opposed by many who are still holding on to the vestiges of the past, inside and outside the SPPD, who simply wish to erase or let die from our memories this momentous victory and historic milestone of racial progress.

The cost of this statue is minuscule considering the progress by which all of us in St. Petersburg have benefited as a result of this one brave act of the Courageous 12, which demolished the systemic walls of institutional segregation in the SPPD and our city.

We are appreciative of the considerations you’ve rendered our request and appreciate your vote of support.

Respectfully,

Sevell C. Brown, III, National Director
National Christian League of Councils

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