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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City Florida: Police harking back to a bygone era - When will it change?

Last night in Lake City, Florida, the good news announced by City Manager Wendell Johnson of no tax increases or utility increases was overshadowed by a recent police incident in the Cedar Park apartment complex involving the Lake City Police Department and the Sheriff. While there may be different versions regarding the call that instigated the response, the actions of the LCPD and Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter's apparent blind eye in having the K-9 engaged in the incident harked back to a bygone era in the South.

Even though tensions were high, Lake City Mayor Steve Witt, who sets the standard in Columbia County for defending the democratic process and First Amendment participation at public meetings, allowed anyone and everyone who wished to approach the microphone to speak.

Former Lake City Police Captain, Rudolph Davis addressed the City Council. He told them that during the disturbance, "citizens of this community recorded videos showing officers using excessive force while arresting several juveniles...  situations like this can quickly get out of control... videos do not lie.

 

After Mr. Davis concluded, Debra White, approached the lectern. Ms. White told the Council that two of the children arrested were her grandchildren.

Ms. White told the Council that she witnessed "some of the officers using excessive force."

(The first voice is Councilman Hill.) Lake City's Police Chief, Argatha Gilmore, listened as the speakers made their presentations. After City Councilman Jake Hill mentioned that he had an issue with one of the LCPD officers drawing his gun, an incident that Mr. Hill explained was not the first time this officer had done so, Chief Gilmore addressed the Council. Chief Gilmore said the investigation was an internal affairs official investigation. The Chief said she would not be commenting until it is complete.

Councilman Hill did not appear pleased with the Chief's answer.

Epilogue

This event was a sad event in the lives of everyone in Lake City. Black folks and white folks alike have, over the course of many years, told the Observer "This is Lake City. Things will never change."

Until it does, the good work and good intentions of so many in Columbia County and Lake City, government and citizens alike will be for naught, as the reputation of this place precedes it, generation after generation.

The event on You Tube. This contains disturbing images and words. Be advised. (Click on the YouTube logo next to the picture to see the videos. Each one is different.)

This is a partial view of the scene before the LCPD and the Sheriff arrived. It looks like a fact finding team of community officers could have handled this. See the police arrive on the scene.

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What can be going through this officer's mind? What police academy teaches this kind of behavior?

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It is not clear why Sheriff Hunter, who was purportedly on the scene, allowed the police dog to become involved in this incident.

This afternoon, the Observer asked Sheriff Hunter this, "I am sure you have heard of Birmingham, Selma, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Jim Crow etc. I am sure you have seen the films
and documentaries regarding this sad time in America. I am sure you have seen the dogs in a sea of Black faces  -- young and old. ¶ Why is the Sheriff's Office dog not in the car, but on the scene?" The Observer has not heard back.

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Watch closely at the beginning of the video. You will see the officer take his gun out, move it around and re-holster it. It is difficult to see, but the magnified portion of the frame shows the revolver in the officer's hands.

You will also see Sheriff Hunter's K-9.

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Comments  (to add a comment go here)

 

On September 22, 2011, Robert Bellamy of Lake City wrote:

This kind of Police state behavior must cease.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

 
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