Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

Lake City News

Lake City's Religious Leaders, After Years of Shootings, Crime, and Drugs, Are Waking Up & Organizing

Picture of McGruff the crime dog
McGruff via National Crime Prevention Council | Columbia County Observer graphic

LAKE CITY, FL – Lake City’s religious leaders have finally awoken from the dead. Shootings – Crime – Drugs, an inept City Council, and a Mayor who has turned his back on Lake City dysfunction have made Lake City one of the most dangerous cities in America, with a reputation that has spread from Florida to Alaska.


Lake City is at the N/S – E/W crossroads to the state’s capitol in Tallahassee. In the past, Lake City was known as the place where Florida’s politicians got their drugs, booze, and women. Lake City’s downtown Blanche Hotel was thought to be the epicenter during prohibition.

Lake City’s racist past is well known. Columbia County was one of Florida's last school districts (1971) to integrate its public schools. They probably would still not be integrated if the feds were not breathing down their collective neck fifty years ago.

Lake City's City Manager, Paul Dyal, is challenged. Mr. Dyal’s refusal to have a background and credit check and subsequent refusal of the Mayor and all but one member of the City Council to ensure these standard checks before Mr. Dyal’s hiring spoke volumes about Lake City’s City Council.

Map of Lake City Shootings over the last year

Lake City Today

According to the 2020 census, Lake City is 54.8 percent white. Its population was 12,478.

For years, crime has been an issue in Lake City. For years, almost a week does not go by without a shooting, discharge of a firearm, or some other crime in Lake City.

map of crime around Sylvester Warren's homeCommunity Activist Sylvester Warren, a formerly convicted drug kingpin and confidant of City Mayor Steve Witt, at almost every City Council meeting for the past three years has spoken out about the neglect, shootings, and other issues confronting the community on the north side of town, where he lives.

Mr. Warren's complaints have mainly fallen on deaf ears.

While Mr. Warren has claimed to be the voice of the black community, other than a handful of supporters, and a Facebook platform, Mr. Warren’s claim of leadership seems questionable.

With crime raging around his home and in the minority areas of the City, other than grandstanding, Mr. Warren has done nothing to ameliorate the situation.

Instead of trying to establish a channel to work with the police, he has asked for the resignation of the Police Chief and Deputy Chief.

Link to National Crime Prevention CouncilMr. Warren has ignored two of the primary tools and resources for neighborhood crime prevention: working with law enforcement and establishing a neighborhood watch program, which cannot be effectively accomplished without the police.

All the while that Mr. Warren was complaining about the violence and degradation of the north end of Lake City, the community’s pastors were silent, as was its county commissioner, Commissioner Ronald Williams, Sr.

Finally, some of Lake City’s pastors have awoken.

Ron Williams, Jr.: Marines Get Things Done

Ron Williams, Jr., a Lake City pastor and retired career marine, has organized some of Lake City's religious community to come together and speak out about the deterioration of the quality of life and law enforcement in Lake City's predominately black community.

Today’s meeting is scheduled for 3 pm in North Lake City at the corner of NW Long Street and NW Georgia Avenue: look for the tent.

County Commissioners and City Council members have been invited, as have the police chief and sheriff.

The public is welcome, and free food will be available.

Comments: to add a comment go here.

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

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.