ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A Clearwater woman is preaching for peaceful protests even though her 17-year-old son was shot and nearly killed by St. Petersburg police in 2013.
Laquanda Everett stood in front of SPPD headquarters Saturday evening and told 8 On Your Side how proud she was that demonstrations there remained passionate but peaceful.
“I’m so glad that we can organize and allow our voices to still be heard but people not be injured,” she said.
Not even an hour later, violence erupted across the bay. Tampa protests near USF spiraled out of control in riots, a far cry from the peaceful St. Pete demonstration Everett participated in earlier in the day.
“It was very disheartening to see it because the cause is getting lost in the violence,” Everett said when we caught up with her Monday. “When we start acting in violence, our voices are no longer heard.”
If anyone understands the anger, it’s Everett. Her son Quade Everett barely survived after a SPPD officer shot in him in the head in 2013.
The 17-year-old was driving a truck that police suspected was stolen. The officer was fired but never charged.
Quade will never be same, suffering from seizures and a paralyzed arm.
“He knows I’m going to continue to fight for those being brutalized by officers and authority,” Everett said, adding that the culture of policing needs to change, but urging that violence is not the way.
She condemns those who steal and set fires just as much as any cops who cross the line.
“Some of these businesses are black-owned businesses,” she said, referring to stores looted and burned in Tampa Saturday. “Ya’ll burning down your own businesses!”
Everett’s protests will continue but are always rooted in peace. Her son has suffered enough for them both.
“I believe protests lead to meetings when we do it peacefully,” she said. “When we do it with violence, it’s lost.”
Things did escalate slightly Sunday night in downtown St. Pete where police said rocks were thrown and a patrol car was smashed.
Fourteen people were ultimately arrested but no tear gas was used and no serious injuries were reported.