Say Something!

Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.

BY Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D., Contributor

Greetings, my African-American Community.  As you know, I have been writing for some time now about issues that impact our lives. These issues have ranged from education to law enforcement as well as local government elections and the Courageous Twelve.

I continue to get phone calls and emails from readers, encouraging me to continue writing and commending my analyses and recommendations. I so appreciate your support and the fact some positions are changing ever so slightly as a consequence.

Now I must ask a favor – “Say Something.”  Not just to me but to the decision makers, elected officials, appointed administrators and others involved in the enterprises of concern.

In the article “Harry Lee, Willie Mae and Fannie Lou,” I illustrated how everyday people possess the power to make a difference. Today I am asking everyday people to be like Fannie Lou: “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” and demand what protesters in St. Pete, the Tampa Bay area and the nation have demanded: Police Body Cameras.

In the same article, I reminded us that civil rights icon Frederick Douglass stated years ago that “power yields nothing without demand.”

As for those of us who have ridden the waves of sacrifice of our ancestors to success, why are we so quiet? Have we become so comfortable that we do not believe we, our sons and daughters, nieces or nephews, brothers or sisters, or someone else’s loved ones can’t fall victim to the horrors we read about daily across the nation, or the Tyron Lewis tragedy?

Are we not our brother’s keeper? Do we not owe those who fought and died for the luxuries we enjoy to pay it forward?

Enlightened law enforcement administrators across the country have embraced body cameras as an essential element of police reform. So has our neighbor, the Gulfport Police Department.

Have you ever wondered why adoption and implementation are so difficult for the City of St. Petersburg?  Well, stop wondering, and “Say Something!” Mayor Rick Kriseman, Chief Tony Holloway, Council Chair Ed Montanari and members of City Council need to hear from you.

And what about our black elected officials, presidents and executive directors of civil rights organizations (NAACP, Urban League, IMA, SCLC) and the Panhellenic Council. What’s your position on police body cameras? Former NAACP President Maria Scruggs supports the use of police body cameras and Senator Darryl Rouson marched with the protesters to show his support.

Admittedly, I may not be aware of all of the positions taken on this issue, so I hesitate to call anyone out. However, the fact that I and others are not aware is problematic.

This is not a cause for which silence is golden. I urge all of you, “Say Something” and say it loudly. Our community needs body cameras for our police officers. Cameras protect both the police and the community.

As a life member of the NAACP, I inquired and was informed the organization supports police body cameras, but the executive committee did not approve other items reported in a recent news release. Specifically, the organization had not endorsed serving on police selection committees or the Community Assistance Liaison initiative at the time it was reported.

Individuals involved in the protests also report they were not consulted, nor did they endorse the programs as reported at Chief Holloway’s press conference. There is an apparent misunderstanding.

Additionally, the city insists on implementing a host of initiatives but not the number one priority — body cameras. According to protesters, Chief Holloway and the city have a constant refrain: “we hear you.”

Well, I ask, what’s so hard about hearing, “we want body cameras?” Come on, people, “Say Something!”

Protesters are assembling each day and advocating for all of us and believe it or not, some of us are critical of the protests but never do what I am recommending.  Critics seem never to find time to engage city/elected officials or administrators in order to “Say Something.”

Peaceful protests are beneficial, and I encourage the protesters to codify their demands/requests, present them, and avoid the possibility of future misrepresentations of their positions.

For those who desire to “Say Something” but do not know how, please know there are various methods open to you:

  1. You can send a note, letter or petition to the Mayor Rick Kriseman or the city council at 175 5th St. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.
  2. You can email mayor@stpete.org, council@stpete.org.
  3. You can also phone the mayor’s office at 727-893.7201 or city council at 727-893-7117) and leave a simple message: “I support police body cameras.”

Thanks for the support and the readership. We are at a pivotal point in history with an unprecedented opportunity for change. As your former chief of police, I encourage all of you, regardless of race or ethnicity, “Say Something!”

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