Sunday, February 11, 2018

Kriseman administration to south St. Pete – protection or a message?


The answers to these questions are important for everyone who lives in St. Petersburg. 

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog
 
An extra visible police presence during the Martin Luther King Parade and the “after party” which follows the parade and lasts into the evening has stirred a continuing dust up between the Kriseman Administration and the citizens of South St. Petersburg.
Here is a revealing VIDEO by John Muhammad from MLK Day. You can get some detail in the Tampa Bay Times from Zachary T. Sampson: Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

The NAACP has weighed in as reported in this article by Tampa Bay Times  Sara DiNatale: NAACP continues to question police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party

Being the good soldier, he is St. Police Chief Tony Holloway has taken full responsibility for the bad feelings in South St. Pete blaming it on a “communications” problem but never really addressing the two key issues. Did Mayor Kriseman or anyone  on his staff see, review and/or ok the plan and why the dramatic change from soft presence to a very visible and aggressive presence as demonstrated in the VIDEO?

Holloway has a history of taking responsibility and fending off responsibility for major police faux pas from his bosses and his somewhat charming way of doing it usually works.

Having worked the MLK event from both the administrative side and the police department side I know that in the past, this event is one previous administrations have taken very seriously and the planning was a joint effort between the Police Department and the Administration.

Mayor Kriseman’s responses so far have been rather lukewarm indicating one of two things. Either he just left the whole thing up to his police chief with no review, follow-up, concern or input to the increased policing plan indicating a complete lack of respect for the event, or he was onboard with the plan and wanted to ensure there were no major issues to cloud his re-election hype.

It could also be that he was just too busy taking a victory lap following his re-election to be involved.   

The real question here is this an ill-conceived MLK Day moment exacerbated by poor “communications” or is this a message to south St. Pete that now I’m back in office and don’t need your votes this is how things are going to be.

The people raising these questions, the NAACP, Brother John Muhammad and others need to press on and not let the Mayor punt this one to his new Deputy Mayor or send her in order to calm the waters. 

The answers to these questions are important for everyone who lives in St. Petersburg. 
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