My fellow citizens of Fort Myers.
It is with a heavy heart that I address you at a time when there is much divisiveness within our city and across our country.
What was observed happening to George Floyd was like watching our history books come to life: a black man, restrained by white men, hands behind his back, non-threatening and helpless, while his life-breath slowly dissipates from his body. Mr. Floyd begged for his life. “I can’t breathe”. “I’m going to die”.
As he lay pleading for eight excruciating minutes a police officer applied pressure with his knee to his neck until he pled no more. When I watched what he endured, I saw my son, my father, my brother, being slowly and painfully murdered right before my eyes by someone I have been taught all my life to respect.
Fifty-five years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., addressed the question of “How long will it take?”
“How long will justice be crucified, and truth be buried?”
“How long will prejudice blind the vision of men?”
Sadly, these questions go unanswered today.
Over the years, policing in Fort Myers has developed a culture of corruption and immoral behavior. We have video evidence of a high-ranking police official participating in prostitution. The FREEH Group, hired by our own government, has documented police officers working with and tipping off drug dealers; officers contributing to witnesses being murdered, and a litany of other illegal actions. Yet, nothing has been done.
A peaceful protest and candle vigil was held to honor George Floyd outside the Fort Myers, FL, Police department Sunday evening.
As Secretary of the Lee County NAACP, our office receives numerous complaints of abuse of power by FMPD. A young man described his humiliation after being pulled over for a simple traffic infraction that led to the search and destruction of his vehicle, while nothing was found; a college student detained by an illegal stop and frisk, or my own experience of being targeted and falsely arrested, only to have the state attorney’s office completely exonerate me and drop all charges.