SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Protesters from Manasota Black Lives Matter are demanding that area law enforcement agencies be defunded. The group gathered Tuesday evening near the unconditional surrender statue in Sarasota to protest and march.
“It’s not just about police brutality, that’s the small part of it. The big part of it is that we have systemic racism in all the fabric of America” Sarasota County Firefighter Terill Salem added “Systemic racism is the problem, and until our white allies join us and break it down, we’re going to go through these same things over and over again”
This Sarasota county firefighter was among dozens, gathering to spread a message. Demanding to defund bay area law enforcement agencies.
“Our purpose for being here is to galvanize the movement against police brutality. We demand the Sarasota Police Department to be defunded and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to be defunded, as well as the Bradenton Police Department and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. They are making our community less safe. They all need to be defunded now,” said protest organizer, Griff, who chose not to provide a last name to 8 On Your Side.
Griff added, “We’re asking for defunding. No more money to these police departments, no protections for the police unions, things like that.”
Protesters tell 8 On Your Side they’re also marching on behalf of 63-year-old Ronald Davenport, who they say was brutalized by the Sarasota Police Department in early May during a traffic stop.
“Silence is compliance, stop the hate on black lives. All Americans should speak and act with equal justice,” Davenport said.
The department claims that Davenport resisted arrest and refused to comply with officers.
According to the Sarasota Police Department, Police Chief Bernadette Dipino advised Internal Affairs to initiate an investigation even though no formal complaint was made. However, investigators say they have been unable to make contact with Davenport.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call 941-263-6027.